A group of astronomers have a new proposal: Humanity evolved too early, and now we have to wait for life to be born elsewhere. In other words, we're the first-born of the universe, and our little brother or sister is on its way.
The astronomers figured this out by calculating the probability of life arising during the course of the universe. They examined the time period 30 million years after the Big Bang, when conditions in the universe first became life-friendly, up until 10 trillion years from now, when some astronomers think the stars will all get snuffed out.
Their results suggest Earth life is premature within that timeline.
"If you ask, 'When is life most likely to emerge?' you might naively say, 'Now,'" lead author Avi Loeb said in a statement. "But we find that the chance of life grows much higher in the distant future."
There's a catch, though. This study hinges on whether or not planet systems around red dwarf stars could host life. Stars that are smaller than our sun, like red dwarf stars, live much longer. That means the chances of life evolving around them increase with time, according to the research.
But if the environment around red dwarfs is too hostile, then the theory doesn't hold up. The team recommended studying the planet systems around red dwarfs to see if they have the right conditions for life.