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The Rabbit Hole, Volume Two

Challenge 47

Challenge 45

Galactic Habitable Zone

by Dennis M. Myers, 10/26/2019

Most everyone is familiar with the habitable zone around our sun, and can relate to what a habitable zone is for other stars. While there is some debate as to where the edges are, and what factors should be considered, it's obviously right here where we live, and a bit on each side, either closer or further from the sun.

A new theory has been proposed that there is a habitable zone on the galactic scale as well. At first it seems a bit odd, but hear it out. The theory has to do more with composition than environment. See, we are made up of a lot of material that was first forged in the death throes of earlier stars. So if one could imagine areas of the galaxy where there is a lack of certain elements, like phosphorus, for example, you might not find life there. Phosphorus is a mineral that makes up 1% of a person's total body weight. It is the second most abundant mineral in the body. It is present in every cell of the body. Most of the phosphorus in the body is found in the bones and teeth.

If there are areas of the galaxy where heavier elements such as this are missing, it could be like a vast desert, devoid of life.

On the other hand, life like us who show up to colonize might have to import enough of it to ignite a life cycle on another world. Or perhaps we will be able to create it on the fly. Maybe an extension of fusion technology.

Other factors might include the relative age of the stars, with younger perhaps not having had enough time for life to develop, or a high radiation environment. Maybe the center of the galaxy gets a little too much. Maybe the outer edges gets too little.

Complicating matters are the orbits of the stars themselves. A perfectly habitable star with abundantly fertile worlds might have a galactic orbit that swings it deep into a zone lacking in materials to support life. It would still be quite nice by itself, like an oasis in a desert. So the concept of a specific zone gets rather fuzzy, but is based on sound science.

One of the things I enjoy about the works of Charles Gannon is his concept of a green main. It's the idea of a galactic habitable zone shown in action. Like a swath of life splashed among the stars like Rob Ross stroking in the colors of the sky. It's obviously more exciting because it's science fiction and not a painting lesson.

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