Star clusters on edge of Milky Way may be home to intelligent, planet-hopping life: scientist


Clusters of stars on the fringes of our Milky Way galaxy may be home to intelligent life. That’s that word from an astrophysicist who’s new to probing extraterrestrial territory.

Rosanne DiStefano of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts, presented her theory Wednesday at the American Astronomical Society’s annual meeting in Kissimmee Florida.

DiStefano said the approximately 150 globular clusters in our galaxy are old and stable, a plus for any civilization. In addition, so many stars are clumped together it would be easy to hop from one planet to another, keeping an advanced society going.

She says the first step is to locate more planets in these clusters. So far, only one has been found.

Scientists have also discovered five supersize stars in other galaxies on a par with the monstrous stellar system in our own Milky Way.

Eta Carinae is the brightest and most massive star system within 10,000 light-years of us. The binary system is located in the southern constellation of Carina, a ship’s keel, and outshines our own sun by 5 million times.

At the American Astronomical Society’s annual meeting Wednesday, Rubab Khan, a researcher at NASA’s Goddard Space Center in Maryland, reported on the discovery of five “Eta twins.” The Hubble Space Telescope and NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope helped identify them.

Khan says the discovery will shed light on the evolution of these stellar heavyweights.

Eta Carinae erupted in the 1800s, hurling stellar material into space.