Centre for Deep Sea Research

Life on earth that will not be impacted if the sun disappears

When we look at the sky and think "Are we alone?", there is no need to look only for planets receiving sun light.

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Deny, Colourbox.

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In an article that was currently published in forskersonen.no (in Norwegian), Håkon Dahle writes about the possibilities for life to exist in cold and unhospitable planets that do not have access to sun energy. In fact, there are already on earth many ecosystems that are completely independant of sun light. Several hundred meters down inside the oceanic crust live microorganisms that grow on hydrogen gas, produced by the reaction between the crust and the seawater. Another example are deep hydrothermal systems on the seafloor, where microorganisms thrive by using the chemical energy present in the warm fluids emerging form the earth. Therefore, a planet with a warm core, volcanic activity and water has everything it takes to develop such ecosystems.

Håkon and other researchers at the K.G. Jebsen Center for Deep Sea Research wish to learn more about how these deep microbial communities arise, develop, and impact their environment. Such research helps understanding which are the conditions required for life on earth, and therefore imagine where and how extraterrestrial life could develop.