In the atmospheres of cold brown dwarfs there can be extraterrestrial life

Astronomers from Great Britain assume that life can exist in an upper atmosphere enough cold brown dwarfs – “unfortunate” stars whose weight isn’t enough for start of thermonuclear reactions in their subsoil.

“For origin of life it isn’t obligatory to have the zemlepodobny planet having a firm surface. In 1976 Karl Sagan has assumed that in an upper atmosphere of gas giants there can be organisms – “sails” and organisms – the “air bags” feeding on energy of the Sun and soaring on the streams proceeding from deep layers of the planet” — Jack Yates from University of Edinburgh (Scotland) has declared.

Brown dwarfs, first of which have been found in 1995, astronomers call transitional objects between stars and planets. The mass of such cancelled stars — less than 7% of mass of the Sun — is too small for emergence of thermonuclear reaction in their subsoil. Therefore brown dwarfs gradually die away and are cooled.

In recent years scientists have opened a number of unusual lines of brown dwarfs – existence of weather on them, lead and mineral “clouds” and some other properties which have forced many astronomers to consider that they actually are very large planets, but not stars.

In 2013 as Yeats tells, astronomers have opened extremely unusual brown dwarf – extremely cold “unfortunate star” of WISE 0855 in the constellation of the Hydra. As scientists this year have found out, her surface and the atmosphere are so cold that in her there are dense water clouds and other things, more characteristic of planets, than for stars. Besides, it has turned out that the atmosphere of brown dwarfs supports all “life elements”, except phosphorus – oxygen, hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen.

It has suggested to Yeats and his colleagues an idea that similar stars can be the life centers, similar to “sails” and Karl Sagan’s “bags” too. They have checked whether it is possible in principle, using the same equations and the ideas which the great American scientist used for a formulation of this hypothesis 40 years ago.

The British followers of Sagan were interested in what maximum and minimum sizes organisms in the atmosphere of “an unfortunate star” can reach not to “fall” in the lower layers of the atmosphere of the brown dwarf, or not to be carried away in an outer space.

As have shown their calculations, even at total absence of the streams of air rising from deep layers of brown dwarfs in their atmosphere there will be able to be microbes, approximately by 10 times smaller by the sizes, than typical terrestrial bacteria.

If in the atmospheres of brown dwarfs there are powerful ascending air streams similar to that which are on Jupiter and on Saturn then in their atmospheres there can be larger beings similar to those which were described by Karl Sagan. Thus, it is possible to assume that life in the atmospheres of “unfortunate stars” can really arise.

Why it is important? By the current estimates of astronomers, at our Galaxy there are about one billion brown dwarfs, it is much more, than any planets and potential doubles of Earth. Only in the neighborhood of Solar system there have to be several tens of such “unfortunate stars” which the James Webb telescope which will be started in 2018, and other new observatories will be able to see. Studying of their range as Yeats concludes, will help us to find life traces in their atmosphere or to be convinced that she isn’t there.