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Alien life could be turning harsh planets into paradises — and astronomers want to find them


Once life gains even the tiniest foothold on a planet, it may have the power to transform that world, forcing us to broaden our definition of “habitable,” new research suggests.

We don’t really know where life might arise. We have only one example of a life-hosting planet, Earth, which started to get interesting perhaps only a few hundred million years after it formed. We know that life on Earth requires a certain set of elements to perform its complex chain of energy production, that it needs liquid water as a solution, and that it can exist only in a relatively narrow range of atmospheric temperatures and pressures.



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