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Chromattix's avatar

Life on Kepler 186f

I started creating this one almost immediately after I heard the (now a couple weeks old) news about a new planet discovered by the Kepler telescope, which is always finding stuff but once in a while a big deal shows up that gets the science community talking. Of the hundreds of exoplanets found by it so far, this one, given the...poetic name of Kepler 186f, is the closest match to Earth in terms of planetary size and being a safe distance from its parent star for life (assuming there's any at all) Thanks to the temperature being right for water to exist as actual water rather than just ice or steam on at least some areas.

This scene was created as a "best case scenario" since if there's one place for me to be optimistic, it's in my artwork. There's no guarantee if anything's living there at all and we won't find out whether or not there is for a long time. But it's the best candidate out of all the planets found so far.

Kepler 186f orbits around a star much smaller, cooler and dimmer than our own sun, so the habitable zone where temperature is just right is much closer in, making its "year" only 130 Earth-days long. The weaker sunlight intensity would mean a few things for the surface assuming there is life there. There could be some massive ice caps near the polar regions, as represented in one of the official artist renditions of the planet as it appears from space. Plant life would have to be pretty cold-tolerant so I went with tree types more akin to those found in boreal forests, but tried to put an alien twist on them. The "pine" trees have their needles pointing downwards underneath a woody cap at the end of each branch. This is to shield the needles from excessive snow build-up that's bound to happen at times on a planet which is likeley a cool-temperate climate even nearer the equator. The vegetation colour is mostly black, brown and dark grey rather than green, as plants try to absorb all wavelengths of light to make the most of what they can get from a dimmer sun.

The blackness of the vegetation could also help keep the area immediately around them warmer as dark colours absorb heat, as well as light. This could also be a clever evolutionary way of plants melting off left over snow quicker so they can resume growing. But snowfall could just be up to the daily weather, and not part of a regular seasonal cycle like on Earth, as Kepler 186f is likeley to not be as tilted on its axis as Earth, seasonal variations, if any - probably aren't as extreme as those on Earth. This is because the planet is pulled into line by its close distance to its sun, which tends to keep planets spinning more "upright". This close proximity to its sun also means it likely has no moons and thus no tides or night-time sources of light either. The colour, density and temperature of the atmosphere is not known, but this bronze-ish "afternoon glow" even during midday seems to be a popular candidate, so I went with that :)

Artwork made and copyrighted by me. Please do not use, modify or sell my artwork without my permission (sharing on blogs relating to Kepler's discoveries or astronomy in general is fine but some credibility would be nice ;))
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© 2014 - 2021 Chromattix
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Dystopia-Maxima's avatar

Since planet earth is our only reference, any idea about alien organisms and alternative evolution will remain conjectural, at least for a long time. But we can dream and your picture looks quite realistic. I like it.

By the way, I made a try as well, and have just posted my vision of the alien life of Europa's inner ocean, with an exploration narrative.

Chromattix's avatar
That's true. There aren't a lot of good representations of what life on other worlds might be like, movies often just go for whatever looks the coolest. Europa's life forms, if any - would be freaky if deep sea life on earth is anything to go by.
Dystopia-Maxima's avatar

I am often wondering which evolution processes would have happened if the primeval land vertebrates had 6 or 8 legs instead of 4. And maybe this has happened on other worlds.

Chromattix's avatar
I think having two feet to trip over is enough :giggle: Makes me think of Avatar though where all major animals had six limbs except the Na'vi, though that too is likely a stylistic choice to make audiences empathize with them more. 
Dystopia-Maxima's avatar

I agree that the 6-limbed Avatar animals were indeed disappointing and that evolution would never have shaped so dysfunctional beings. However insects have 6 legs and spiders 8, and they are very functional. Concerning soft-bodied organisms, some deep-sea sea cucumbers have a number rudimentary legs (8, 10, 12, depending on the species). I have seen videos of them moving on the deep-sea mud. They are really functional. The real point is that it's very hard to imagine what evolution would have done, if it had started from something a bit different from what we know. And inversely, some organisms of planet Earth like starfishes have a so strange anatomy that, if they did not exist here, no science-fiction author would have been crazy enough to imagine something like that.

Chris000's avatar
Always nice to see a scientific take on what an alien world might look like. I also like how there is a degree of familiarity along with the alien nature of this world. Something that the viewer finds strangely comforting about the picture. 

I like how the mid afternoon glow looks kind of like a lovely evening all the time. I guess it helps make the picture more serene in a way. The waterfalls thundering before the ice caps though is the icing on the cake though that really brings the piece together. 
Chromattix's avatar
Thanks. I generally like alien environments to look as unfamiliar as possible, especially when it comes to plant life. But indeed having it resemble some earth landscapes helps it appeal more to the public. Alien environments have gotta look unique, but not anxiety-inducing after all :D

I've seen similar lighting situations to this before. In Australia we get pretty severe bushfires every summer. If a layer of smoke from a far away fire makes it over the city the sky turns this colour and the sun glows a bright orange as opposed to the blinding white one would expect it to be in the middle of the day. It makes your shadow appear blue-ish too since the light hitting everything else is sorta orange-filtered. Very surreal when it happens and it's about as close as you can get to see what this world would look like under a red dwarf star.
Dues-X's avatar
I get pleasant No Man's Sky vibes from the foreground foliage.
Chromattix's avatar
I haven't played that I must admit :shh:
Philferno's avatar
Amazing artwork!
NiwaDaisuke's avatar
I realy love this ;) I like how you describe everything :) I really hope one day we will achievie warp drive I hope in my time. (I dont belive that there is nothing that can travel faster than light) I would love to be able to explore the galaxy,
Chromattix's avatar
Same here... But I think we were born too early for that ;p
xXDANK420MEMESXx's avatar
SOON humans will come and fuck up the planet like we did with earth
Chromattix's avatar
We're not finished ruining this planet yet. There's still some spots of green left :shakefist:
GryphonsArt's avatar
it looks very real Clap :squee: 
portisHeart's avatar
*packs siberian gear* *books interstellar flight*... i'm so going there. amazing gorgeous scenery, built so thoughtfully according to possible scenario, very creative too. so... black, and not white like those animals living underground... vegetation would then strive for more light, while cave animals just lose pigmentation? anyways, thx too for the interesting info bit about kepler ^_^
Chromattix's avatar
I imagined any animals here most likely being white, though probably moreso so they can blend in with all the snow around. But with black vegetation there could also be a lot of black animals too (they'd keep warmer easier) so the fauna here might end up being just as black and white as the landscape :nod:
portisHeart's avatar
mmh.. how big are the chances to have a similar fauna there... but maybe what came through here via evolution is just what's most plausible to survive in any given setting? i always wonder, i mean look at what lives in our deep sea... many of our life form already do look like aliens.
but if the animals there were anything like here, then yeah, camo white'd be a good option. and maybe dark blue too - is there actually a real pigment for pure black talking about living beings?
anyways, lol, B/W animals'd be fun, like, they couldnplay chess. predator chess, where you lose = you get eaten :lmao:
Chromattix's avatar
Blue in animals seems pretty rare here on earth. I can only think of select species of birds, tropical fish and a few lizards that contain the colour. Blue plants are even harder to find. Nature doesn't seem to favour blue that much, so I'd be pretty stoked to hear of a planet covered in blue organisms :D But more realistically if the environment is similar to earth then the colouring of its fauna would probably be similar too. Brows, greys, whites and blacks just don't seem to require any too-specific pigments to make, and anything unusually coloured is usually poisonous :dead:
portisHeart's avatar
i think i might be confuzzled, thinking about how human hair looks black, but is a mix of a lot of blue pigment and some red, that my black meoow is actually very dark brown, and a black wool jumper was actually deep dark green.... white is a given, no pigment. grey... no idea. i need to wikiGoggle this more in detail  :blush:
unusual.. amanita: check, probably many blue beings (makes me think of cyan - cyanide, eewww)... i wonder how other species more concerned with eating them actually see the colors of poisonous things - that might even not be poisonous to them  Scratch Head 
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