Intelligent life forms may be able to travel across three reportedly habitable planets in a "Goldilocks zone" orbiting a newly discovered dwarf star, according to a Cornell University report published this week. The system of exoplanets, dubbed "Trappist-1" by NASA after the federal agency discovered the region in late February, includes seven exoplanets — and one of the most likely possibilities for extraterrestrial life.
The three exoplanets included in the region are within such a short distance of each other that it wouldn’t be unrealistic to assume aliens were capable of "interplanetary panspermia," Manasvi Lingam and Abraham Loeb, co-authors of the report, noted in their research. Panspermia is when the same life forms created somewhere else in the universe are able to initiate life on other planets.
Though entirely theoretical, the authors behind the research said Trappist-1 could provide the first-known capability of life traveling across planets in outer space. Aliens conducting interplanetary travel may not look anything like humans, though.
Harvard University researchers said the most likely life forms hopping across the three cosmos were tiny bacteria attaching themselves onto meteors covered in hydrogen and water. Those microorganisms may be able to go dormant for extended periods of time while performing interplanetary panspermia, though it remains unclear whether they'd actually be able to survive the journey from one exoplanet to the next included in Trappist-1.
The three exoplanets featured in the "Goldilocks zone" were named "E," "F" and "G," in consecutive order based on their distance to the dwarf star each orbits.
Cornell University researchers weren’t only convinced life forms existed in Trappist-1. They may have already traveled to each of the three exoplanets.
"It would not be surprising to find the same forms of life on all three habitable planets near Trappist-1," Loeb told New Scientist in an interview Monday. "Because these distances are so close, a lot more different kinds of species, microbial or otherwise, could migrate from one planet to another."