Life in the Cosmological Future - Resources, Biomass and Populations

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M.N. Mautner (2005), JBIS, 58, 167-180

Refcode: 2005.58.167
Keywords: Astrobiology, cosmology, ecology, galaxy, solar system

The amounts of life that can be realized in any ecosystem are determined by the resources of materials and energy, the requirements of the biomass, the rates of usage or wastage, and the life span of the habitat. In the Solar System, carbonaceous asteroids and comets are accessible resources, and meteorite-based micro- cosms showed that these materials could support microbial and plant life. Based on the measured nutrients, bioavailable materials in the carbonaceous asteroids can yield a biomass of 1018 kg, and the total materials of the comets can yield a biomass of 1025 kg. The total amount of life in a habitat of finite duration, such as the Solar System, may be measured in terms of time-integrated biomass. In these terms, the potential amount of future life about the Main Sequence Sun can be 1034 kg-years, largely exceeding the 1024 kg-years of past terrestrial life. Life about brown, red and white dwarf stars may be energy-limited and contribute 1046 kg-years in the future. The upper limits of life would in the universe would be obtained by converting all baryonic matter to biomass, and gradually converting the biomass to supporting energy. These projections of cosmo-ecology allow an immense 1048 kg-years of time-integrated biomass in the galaxy and 1059 kg-years in the universe.

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