Cosmic biology in perspective

N. C. Wickramasinghe, Dayal T. Wickramasinghe, Christopher A. Tout, John C. Lattanzio, Edward J. Steele

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

A series of astronomical observations obtained over the period 1986 to 2018 supports the idea that life is a cosmic rather than a purely terrestrial or planetary phenomenon. These include (1) the detection of biologically relevant molecules in interstellar clouds and in comets, (2) mid-infrared spectra of interstellar grains and the dust from comets, (3) a diverse set of data from comets including the Rosetta mission showing consistency with biology and (4) the frequency of Earth-like or habitable planets in the Galaxy. We argue that the conjunction of all the available data suggests the operation of cometary biology and interstellar panspermia rather than the much weaker hypothesis of comets being only the source of the chemical building blocks of life. We conclude with specific predictions on the properties expected of extra-terrestrial life if it is discovered on Enceladus, Europa or beyond. A radically different biochemistry elsewhere can be considered as a falsification of the theory of interstellar panspermia.

Original languageEnglish
Article number205
Number of pages13
JournalAstrophysics and Space Science
Volume364
Issue number11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 20 Nov 2019

Keywords

  • Comets–interstellar
  • Grains–panspermia
  • Molecules–interstellar

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