Researchers from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics recently released a study claiming that panspermia, an astronomical theory that life is exchanged between planets within solar systems, can be expanded to support exchanging life within the Milky Way galaxy.

The study, “Galactic Panspermia,” concluded that life, or the chemical compounds necessary for life, can be distributed between solar systems or even galaxies by astronomical objects such as meteoroids or asteroids. The study was led by Visiting Scholar at the Institute for Theory and Computation Idan Ginsburg and co-authored by Astronomy Department chair Abraham “Avi” Loeb and ITC postdoctoral fellow Manasvi Lingam.

The theory of panspermia proposes a mechanism by which astronomical objects could feasibly transport life to other planets within solar systems. The presence of life could take the form of anything from chemical compounds to microorganisms.

The study, which expands the theory panspermia to interstellar transport, hinges on the probability of two factors: the rate at which solar systems capture life-bearing objects and the ability of life to survive the treacherous space conditions for extended periods of time.

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