We tend to look for very specific forms of life in the universe based on what we know: an Earth-like planet in orbit around a star and at a distance that allows the water on its surface to be in a liquid state.
Much has already been said about silicon life forms or, for example, methane-based life as an alternative, but what else is theoretically possible?
According to a study by a group of physicists, hypothetically, there may well be alien species that can form, develop and flourish in the depths of stars. It all depends on how you define life.
If we take as a key the ability to encode information by some carriers and the ability of these carriers to reproduce themselves faster than they decay, then hypothetical monopole particles strung on cosmic filaments can become the basis of life inside stars, just as DNA and RNA form the basis of life on Earth.
With these “necklaces” the process of mass formation of random sequences could well have occurred until one was formed that is capable of self-replication, as was the case with RNA.
The problem is that neither cosmic strings (one-dimensional linear objects) nor monopoles (elementary particles with one magnetic pole) have been discovered so far, remaining purely hypothetical, but theory is always ahead of practice.
Back in 1988, Russian scientists Evgeny Chudnovsky and his colleague, theoretical physicist Alexander Vilenkin, predicted that cosmic strings could be captured by stars.
Cosmic necklaces can form in a series of symmetry-breaking phase transitions, according to a new study. At the first stage, monopoles appear. In the second – strings.
This can lead to a stable configuration of one monopole bead and two strings, which, in turn, can be connected, forming one, two, and even three-dimensional structures that are as similar as possible to atoms connected by chemical bonds.
Cosmic strings are hypothetical 1-dimensional topological defects which may have formed during a symmetry-breaking phase transition in the early universe when the topology of the vacuum manifold associated to this symmetry breaking was not simply connected.
Interestingly, according to the authors of the work, if the lifespan of self-replicating nuclear species is as short as the lifespan of many unstable composite nuclear objects, they can quickly evolve towards great complexity.
What might such a species of aliens look like? This, physicists believe, is a real feast for the imagination, but there is no clear direction. Our current knowledge of life as such is too tied to the life form we know on Earth.
But scientists have suggested that, since such organisms will use part of the energy of their star for survival and reproduction, this may explain the faster cooling of some of them, which does not correspond to accepted models. Randomly dimming stars can also be included here.
For example just a few months before the COVID-19 pandemic really kicked off in early 2020, the world was fixated on a distant supergiant star, 700 light-years away known as Betelgeuse. The monstrous furnace suddenly dimmed, becoming 10 times darker than usual.
To date, this is nothing more than an interesting hypothesis, but physicists plan to continue research by developing models of cosmic necklaces in stars.
Yes, it is far from certain that this will lead us to an encounter with brightly luminous aliens, but at least it can give us a better understanding of cosmic strings and monopoles. In the end, the idea that the universe is actually overflowing with the most diverse life cannot but excite the mind.