Why haven’t we found aliens? Maybe because the most common star type is lousy at sustaining life.

Inverse looks at a potential answer to the puzzle of why, in a universe filled with so many stars, we haven’t found any evidence of any life out there. It might be, says David Kipping of Columbia University, that red dwarfs, the most common kind of star, are just not that hospitable for any potential life to form:

The “red sky paradox” refers to the idea that red dwarf stars are the most common type of star in the universe, outnumbering stars like the Sun by five times, and could potentially sustain life on the planets that orbit them. But so far, our searches for life around them are coming up empty.

If the resolution of the red sky paradox is that red dwarf stars do not make for habitable planets, then that has implications for the Fermi paradox. The Fermi paradox, named after Italian-American physicist Enrico Fermi, is the contradiction between the high probability that life exists elsewhere in the universe and the lack of evidence of said extraterrestrial life.

Since red dwarf stars are the most common type of star in the universe, their non-habitability would mean that life is much less common throughout the universe than scientists may have initially believed.

You can read Kipping’s paper here.

[via Wenz]