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Can The Sirius Star System Support Life?

Updated on September 04, 2015
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Robin Olsen holds a B.Sc.in Computer Information Systems and an active and vigorous sense of curiosity and imagination.


Joined: 4 years agoFollowers: 44Articles: 27

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In 1976 a book was written by Robert Temple called 'the Sirius Mystery'. This book suggests that the Dogon tribe of Africa had advanced astronomical knowledge given to them by extraterrestrials from Sirius. There was certainly a lot of anomalies surrounding the knowledge of the Dogon tribe. They knew of the existence of a second star that was not visible to the naked eye, and the Dogon had no telescopes. It was postulated that they also knew the existence of a third star in the Sirius system that is completely undetected to this day. The existence of this knowledge as well as several other pieces of information were cited as proof that the Dogon tribe had been visited and influenced by extraterrestrials (Called the Nommo - an amphibian race)

The book is well written and quite extensive and it would take awhile to properly research all the data to determine its validity. Rather than go over this, and all the following books written on the subject since 1976, I have decided to first determine if the Sirius star system, based on the scientific data I have been able to find, is actually capable of sustaining life.

the Sirius Star System
the Sirius Star System

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So what do we know for sure?

For that, let's first look at what we know for sure. Sirius is a known binary star system. This means that there are two stars in this system. The main star is a Class A (White) star called 'Sirius A', there is a companion star - 'Sirius B' - which is a white dwarf star roughly 20 AU (astronomical unit) away from Sirius A currently and has a orbit of 49.9 years. The system is roughly 300 million years old.(1) Sirius A has a habitable zone of between 2 and 5 AU , otherwise known as the 'goldilocks zone'. Any planet closer than 2 AU and it would be too hot, farther out than 5 AU and it would be too cold to support life.

Let's look first at the age of the star system. Scientists have put the age of the Sirius system at roughly 300 million years old. Our solar system is 4.5 billion years old to give an idea of how long it MAY take for life to develop normally to the stage it has on Earth, but be careful when making this comparison as Earth has suffered numerous extinction level events such as asteroid impacts throughout its history that may or may not be common in other star systems. However, even keeping that in mind, 300 million years is barely long enough for planets to form never mind life forming on that planet.

This means that any planet orbiting Sirius A would be a young world. It would have warm, shallow oceans and any continents formed already would be small, with little or no erosion and volcanic. The planet would have a thick and very humid atmosphere, and this environment would be dominated by a bright, violent sun beaming out sterilizing ultraviolet light. At the bottom of these oceans, protected from the white sun's detrimental effects, simple forms of bacterial life could gain a toe hold, nourished by hydrothermal vents from the planet's interior. How long this life would take to develop and evolve into more complex life is variable.

Add to this the fact that Sirius A lifespan in its current configuration - otherwise known as its main sequence lifetime (MSL) - is only 1 billion years and 300 million years have already passed and we can assume that no life that formed on any planet in the habitable zone would live long as in 700 million years all planets in existence today around Sirius A will be destroyed when it reaches the end of its MSL.

So the age says that the prospect of life in the Sirius star system is low but what about the stars themselves?

As stated, it is known for sure that Sirius has two stars, with a possibility for a third, but let's focus on the two Science knows about for sure right now. Sirius A is a spectral type A star - also known as a white star. These stars have a high mass and burn brighter and hotter than our sun, which is a class G (yellow) star, because of this they tend to consume the supply of hydrogen faster and thus are shorter lived. They tend to give off a lot of ultraviolet light and, due to all of this, biological evolution is severely restricted in Sirius. (2)(3)

Sirius B is a white dwarf on a 49.9 year orbit of Sirius A and during that orbit is between 8 and 31 AU distance from Sirius A. This star would give off similar brightness and radiation to Sirius A and, when it is closest to Sirius A would be a very strong 'second sun' for any planet near the outer rim of the goldilocks zone for Sirius A. The existence of a second white dwarf star in the Sirius system would seem to suggest that the possibility of life is extremely remote indeed.

But wait, there is a supposed third star in the Sirius system. According to Robert Temple's Dogon information, this should be a red dwarf star. He was so certain of it that he made the following quote:

"If a Sirius-C is ever discovered and found to be a red dwarf, I will conclude that the Dogon information has been fully validated."

So, what about that third star? Well, funny you should ask that. According to gravitational studies done in 1995 showed a possible Brown Dwarf star orbiting Sirius A every 6 years. Could this be the elusive Sirius C spoken about by the Dogon?(4)

A brown dwarf star is a sub-stellar object whose mass is too low to sustain a hydrogen fusion reaction in its core. So it never becomes a full blown star and resembles a large Jupiter like gas giant.

However, before we lose ourselves too much in determining the effects this third star would have on any planets in the goldilocks zone it should be noted that a more recent study published in 2008 and using advanced infrared imaging technology came to the conclusion that Sirius PROBABLY did not have a third star. I say probably as the survey of the entire system was not fully complete having a region roughly 5 AU from Sirius A being unexplored during this study.(5)

Sirius
Sirius

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Conclusions

So, in conclusion, I would have to say that due to the relatively young age of the Sirius system, combined with the extreme challenges to life development in a Class A star system and the problems presented by Sirius B roaming through the system every 49.9 years makes the probability of even simple life in the Sirius system highly unlikely never mind an advanced aquatic species capable of traveling the 8.6 light years to Earth. I do not say it isn't there, just that it is highly unlikely that the Sirius star system can support life in any advanced form unless of course this life took the form of a purely aquatic life form capable of 'breathing' in the same way a fish does on our beloved Earth.

I don't fully understand how the Dogon got the knowledge they got regarding Sirius, was it actually from 'The Nommo' - that aquatic species that is supposed to be native to Sirius? Was it a wandering band of astrologists that came to the Dogon territory to sky watch who gave them the info? After all, the Dogon has been around since the Sumerians and there have been many civilizations since then that had astrological capabilities in that part of the world, they could have picked that up from them. How they got it is unknown, that they had it is pretty much undisputed. Did the info come from Sirius itself? I would have to say no based on my current knowledge of the environment present in that star system.

In the future, more info may reveal more insights. In 1976, when Robert Temples book was written, it was dismissed outright by other scholars as nonsense. But is it? Since his writing of his book the second star has been 100% confirmed and the third star has not been mathematically ruled out and indeed, gravitational studies in the 90s did show that SOMETHING was there.

The Sirius Mystery continues....

Referenced Material

(1)Liebert, J.; Young, P. A.; Arnett, D.; Holberg, J. B.; Williams, K. A. (2005). "The Age and Progenitor Mass of Sirius B". The Astrophysical Journal )

(2)BENEST D., 1989: Planetary orbits in the elliptic restricted problem. II - The Sirius system. Astronomy and Astrophysics, 223, 361

(3)BENEST D., 1993: Stable planetary orbits around one component in nearby binary stars. II Celestial Mechanics, 56, 45

(4) Benest, D., & Duvent, J. L. (1995) 'Is Sirius a Triple Star'. Astronomy and Astrophysics 299: 621-628

(5) Bonnet-Bidaud, J. M.; Pantin, E. (October 2008). "ADONIS high contrast infrared imaging of Sirius-B". Astronomy and Astrophysics 489: 651–655. arXiv:0809.4871. Bibcode 2008A&A...489..651B. doi:10.1051/0004-6361:20078937.

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    • ohkennyabi profile image

      ohkennyabi 4 years ago from The East

      If the Dogon tribe had been around since the Sumerians, I think it is likely this knowledge of the Sirius system is gotten of from some unknown ancient civilization not known to us in the modern time. Perhaps more light will be shed over time as our pool of knowledge and discoveries increases. A very good Hubpage. Voted most useful and awesome.

    • CreeViking profile image
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      Robin Olsen 4 years ago from Rural Canada

      Thanks for your comments.

    • psbhatt profile image

      PISUPATI SRINIVAS BHATT 4 years ago from HYDERABAD

      Dr Seth Shostak of SETI research admitted there are just 750 star systems studied for ET. Read full context: http://crestvideos.com/relevance-of-seti-research/

      Did SETI study Sirius system? Well researched article, thanks.

    • jgreen9802 3 years ago

      With more ultraviolet and X-ray radiation from Sirius than our Sun puts out, it is possible that any life on a planet in the Sirius system would evolve faster than it has here on Earth. Maybe in 300 million years, intelligent life could occur and they might have travelled here.

    • CreeViking profile image
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      Robin Olsen 3 years ago from Rural Canada

      I think any surface life is doomed from the start with all the ultraviolet radiation present from two confirmed White stars (one's a dwarf) however I find it extremely interesting that in Robert Temple's book he described the species from Sirius as being the Nommo, an aquatic species and my research into this says that any life in Sirius would most likely be aquatic in nature.

    • Nommo 3 years ago

    • CreeViking profile image
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      Robin Olsen 3 years ago from Rural Canada

      Excellent link, thanks for that nommo

    • loveofnight profile image

      loveofnight 3 years ago from Baltimore, Maryland

      this is definitely a very useful and interesting read. this is the first that i have heard on the topic so thank you for opening my eyes to something new.thanks much and happy hubbing

    • CreeViking profile image
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      Robin Olsen 3 years ago from Rural Canada

      thank you loveofnight, I am glad you enjoyed it and learned something as I did when I was looking into this.

    • darioli 2 years ago

      muito bom, mui claro. Obrigado.

    • CreeViking profile image
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      Robin Olsen 2 years ago from Rural Canada

      Muito obrigado. Fico feliz que você tenha gostado.

    • christopher 2 years ago

      Interesting. I'm always fascinated by Sirius because of the facts and conspiracies.

      "Sirius B is a white dwarf on a 49.9 year orbit of Sirius A and during that orbit is between 8 and 31 AU distance from Sirius A." Wikipedia says Sirius B is about 20 AU away from Sirius A. May I know the source of how you obtained that information?

    • CreeViking profile image
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      Robin Olsen 2 years ago from Rural Canada

      The sources for this info are located in the footnotes of the article itself.

      Also, I never stated where the second star CURRENTLY is in the Sirius star system, only that it existed and it's orbital details were given. It may very well PRESENTLY be 20 AU away, who knows.

      The problem with Wikipedia is the info is not vetted properly before it is published. I prefer to reference work that has been vetted by peers, etc. Gives me a greater sense of confidence when I do it this way

    • Lady Guinevere profile image

      Debra Allen 23 months ago from West By God

      You did do your research and yes that can be lots of fun. I also so not strictly go with anything on Wiki because it can be edited by anyone. I also do not think that aliens would want to contact humans, especially the military....because all we know to do is kill first then ask questions. Though I have had an experience with aliens, twice and twice too many for me. I have had other things too, but will not say here.

      There is so much that we do not know or that has been hidden for one reason or another. No one is an expert at anything only because things change as we learn more.

    • Duke Walters 18 months ago

      Very good article. I have heard the story about the dogons many times and have read how scientists immediately discard it. One of the conclusions is that the Sirius star system is not old enough to have produced advanced ET intelligence. Based on our current understanding, that conclusion may be true or not. No way to know for sure. However, that is not the only explanation. Let's assume the Sirius system is not old enough to have developed advanced ET intelligence. Well, what if those ET's just settled there and originated somewhere else? That is a perfectly feasible explanation. If ET colonized the Sirius system as an extension of their civilization. Three hundred million years is more than plenty of time for an advanced ET race to prepare even the most barren of worlds for an advanced society. That type of planetary and astro engineering would certainly be within the reach of an advanced galactic race. Even if the Sirius system is 300M years old and that is not enough time for advanced ET life to develop, that proves nothing.

    • CreeViking profile image
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      Robin Olsen 18 months ago from Rural Canada

      Thanks Duke for the read. Even though the Sirius is only 300 million years old there is no indication that we even know how long it takes to develop intelligent life... the earth is 4.5 billion years old but for all we know there has been intelligent life here before us and it either left, or got wiped out in some sort of global catastrophe...we just don't know. There is a theory that humanity is suffering from a collective amnesia when it comes to our own history (we are missing huge chunks of it according to some). So how long does it take? Who really knows this?

    • gene 18 months ago

      no. sirius system cannot suporrt life so you need to have oxygen tanks

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      MizBejabbers 17 months ago

      This is a very well-researched article from the scientific standpoint. However, even scientists are beginning to study the possibility of dimensions and life in those dimensions. This article was written from the view that life would be of the 3rd dimension like earth. I doubt very seriously that 3D life would exist on any of the planets of Sirius, but I consider the possibility that life could exist in another dimension. I believe this information the Dogons have passed on is based on truth.

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      Missy 14 months ago from The Midwest

      Interesting hub...

    • CreeViking profile image
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      Robin Olsen 14 months ago from Rural Canada

      thanks

    • robhampton profile image

      Rob Hampton 7 months ago from Tampa Bay, Florida

      Great article. I am FASCINATED with the universe. The Kepler is finding some interesting stuff. Too bad some of this stuff is millions of light years away! I'm sure though that there is life somewhere in closer proximity to us, not necessarily "intelligent" but at least like plant life, and smaller organisms. I'm 44 years old and I'm sure in my lifetime we'll find some definative form of extraterrestrial existence

    • johnmariow profile image

      John Gentile 6 months ago from Connecticut

      Excellent and fascinating report in the Sirius Star System. Life as we know it cannot exist in the Sirius Star System. But this does not mean that life has to be as we know it.

    • PAUL 4 months ago

      ALIENS WILL BE FAR FROM PESKY WARS, THERE WARS WERE LONG GONE 1M ILLIONS OF YEARS AGO!! THEY HAVE WEAPONS ELECTRO MAGNETIC WEAPONS WICH THEY TRAVEL WITH ALSO QUICKLY, THE ELECTRO MAGNETIC NUCLEAR WEAPOINS COULD TURN A PLANET LIKE OURS TO MARS,IN A SECOND NO HIDING. WE R A SMILUATION FOR ALIENS TO FIND THE PERFECT THE WAY OF LIFE, DE JA VU, IS WHEN THEY (GOD)HAVE PRESSED RESET AND STARTED AGAIN.THEY NEED TO FIND THE ULTIMATE PERFCETION, AND USING SIMULAITONS CAN DO THIS., IF THEY EVER SUCEED WE WILL PROBABLY FIND THAT ,LIKE BLACKL MIRROR, THAT WE ARE THE ONES IN THE REAL WORLD AND JUST JOIN UP CONSINCESES, SO IT WILL FELL WE HAVE BEEN DOING THE SIMUALTIONN AND COMPUTING THE SIM!ALEINES WILLL NEVER TDESTROY US, THERES PARTS OF SPACE WITH THE CHEMICALS h2o IN CLOUDS THE SIZE OF OUR SUN AND MORE, SO WHY FIGHT WITH GRAVITY WHEN THEY CAN JUST DRIVE THREW THEM CLOUDS SUCKING UP THE WATER, AN THERE ISNT ENOUGH GOLD HERE COMPARED TO SOME PLACES, OR DIAMONDS, THERS IS A PLANET MADE OF DIAMOND, THAT MUST OF HAD LIFE AT SOME POINT OR LOTS OF TREEES

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 3 months ago from Northern California, USA

      Fascinating! It is always fun to learn about the elements of the universe. You did an excellent job researching this subject. I enjoyed reading about all the different types of stars.

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