Strange New Worlds

Apr 25, 2023 | Cool Science, Just for fun | 0 comments

There’s one thing I’d love to be discovered before I die – the existence of life on other planets. I feel like we’re getting closer all time; way back in secondary school I remember a teacher telling us about a strange signal in space that no one could figure out. All these years later, I still think about that signal from time to time – was it just a rogue radio wave? The sound of cosmic radiation? Or something else entirely? (Although here’s an update for you that I’ve just found).

The recent discoveries of exoplanets within ‘Goldilocks’ zones, brings this dream of mine ever closer – as does the discovery of a magnetic field on YZ Ceti b.

Artist’s impression of YZ Ceti b, taken from the NASA website

Was I the only one who was completely hyped when I read about this?! We managed to detect RADIO WAVES from ANOTHER PLANET which indicates the existence of a magnetic field on YZ Ceti b! Magnetic fields are essential to life, as they protect the planet’s atmosphere from being eroded by stellar and solar winds, and plasma from the sun. We have one (obviously), as does Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, and scientists have previously found evidence of larger exoplanets with their own magnetic fields; Mars used to have one, but it gradually collapsed, leaving behind the dusty red plant we know (and love to puzzle over) today.


Mars Curiosity Image Gallery | NASA
Hello there – Curiosity rover on the surface of Mars


Now, there’s no evidence to suggest that YZ Ceti b (try saying that five times while you’re drunk) is teeming with life, but the fact is that the conditions are right for life to exist. So in theory, that planet could already have life on it, or it could do in the future. Hopefully if single-celled organisms on YZ Ceti b do decide to evolve, they’ll do it before our own planet unbecomes unhabitable from global warming, and we’ll still be alive and have the technology available to witness it.

It’s also worth noting that YZ Ceti b is far far closer to its sun than we are to ours. Where Mercury’s orbit (the closest planet to our sun) is eighty-eight days, YZ Ceti b’s orbit is two. TWO DAYS! Crikey, imagine the temperatures and all the stuff it’s being bombarded with from its star! No thanks. Even with global warming, I’ll stay a nice comfy 93 million miles from our sun, and enjoy the (comparatively) enjoyable heat eight minutes after it leaves the sun’s surface. So how close it is to its star, the kinds of radiation its receiving, its orbit – not to mention what the planet is actually composed of – all factors into whether or not YZ Ceti b could sustain life. But I think it’s still goddamn cool we’ve found the radio waves, am I right?

Are you also waiting for the day we find life on other planets? Or are you happier not knowing what else is out there?

Z xx




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