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Is Earthly life premature from a cosmic perspective?

1 August 2016 Astronomy Now

The universe is 13.8 billion years old, while our planet formed just 4.5 billion years ago. Some scientists think this time gap means that life on other planets could be billions of years older than ours. However, new theoretical work suggests that present-day life is actually premature from a cosmic perspective.

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Are aliens silent because they are all extinct?

21 January 2016 Astronomy Now

Life on other planets would likely be brief and become extinct very quickly, say astrobiologists from The Australian National University (ANU). In research aiming to understand how life might develop, the scientists realised new life would commonly die out due to runaway heating or cooling on their fledgling planets.

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Happy Hour on Comet Lovejoy

24 October 2015 Astronomy Now

Comet Lovejoy lived up to its name by releasing as much ethyl alcohol as in at least 500 bottles of wine every second as well as a type of sugar into space during its peak activity, according to new observations by an international team. The finding adds to the evidence that comets could have been a source of the complex organic molecules necessary for the emergence of life.

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Curiosity’s Martian nitrogen find raises possibility of ancient life

31 March 2015 Kerry Hebden

Nitrogen, in the form of nitric oxide (one nitrogen atom and one oxygen atom), has been detected for the first time on the surface of Mars by a team of researchers using the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument suite aboard NASA’s Curiosity rover, adding to the growing speculation that life could have once flourished on ancient Mars.