Think the crushing weight of larger planets might be too much to prevent life? Think again! A new discovery from Japan has shown that microbes can survive 403,627 × g — yes, that's more than 400,000 times Earth's own gravity.

The researchers tested Escherichia coli, Paracoccus denitrificans, Shewanella amazonensis, Lactobacillus delbrueckii and Saccharomyces cerevisiae in centrifuges, spinning them at ludicrous speeds to simulate the conditions of hypergravity. All of the prokaryotes survived — even grew — at 2000 times Earth gravity, and P. denitrificans and E. coli thrived at the extreme of 403,627 g.

Prokaryotes are already known to survive extremes of temperature, acidity, radiation and pressure — and this shows that gravity won't stop them either. It looks like any major obstacle to extraterrestrial life isn't from the gravitational side of things. With these results, we've discovered life that could exist even in conditions as extreme as the surface of a cold brown dwarf star.


E. Coli image via Wikimedia Commons.