Scientists closer to finding alien life after uncovering new ‘telltale signs’ of an inhabited planet

Scientists closer to finding alien life after uncovering new 'telltale signs' of an inhabited planet

Scientists closer to finding alien life after uncovering new ‘telltale signs’ of an inhabited planet

Alien life has yet to be found in space, but a new study has uncovered ‘telltale’ signs of  an inhabited planet.



Researchers at the University of California, Riverside (UCR) discovered that greenhouse gases, like those emitted on Earth, would mean a distant world had been terraformed – or artificially altered.

Signatures of methane, ethane, and propane, along with gases made of nitrogen and fluorine or sulfur and fluorine could indicate technology-using life forms due to the gases only forming through manufacturing.

Scientists ran simulations on a hypothetical planet, finding NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) could spot the gasses as easily as it could ozone on Earth.

UCR astrobiologist and lead study author Edward Schwieterman said: ‘For us, these gases are bad because we don’t want to increase warming.

‘But they’d be good for a civilization that perhaps wanted to forestall an impending ice age or terraform an otherwise uninhabitable planet in their system, as humans have proposed for Mars.’

The five gases proposed by the researchers are used on Earth in industrial applications such as making computer chips.

Researchers chose to simulate a planet in the TRAPPIST-1 system because it is home to seven known rocky words and is one of the most studied planetary systems.

They used the Planetary Spectrum Generator (PSG), which is a model designed to synthesize and retrieve data about a planet’s atmosphere and surface.

The team simulated the five gasses on the hypothetical planet and calculated how many observations JWST would need to detect them using its Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI), which sees wavelengths from 5 to 12 micrometers.

MIRI features both a camera and a spectrograph, which separates incoming light by its frequency and records the resulting spectrum.

MIRI also has sensitive detectors that lets it see redshifted light of distant galaxies, newly forming stars, and faintly visible comets as well as objects in the Kuiper Belt.

The study showed that JWST was able to pic up the greenhouses gases as easily as it would identifying Earth’s ozone.

Researchers at the University of California , Riverside (UCR) discovered that greenhouse gases, like those emitted on Earth, would mean a distant world had been terraformed - or artificially altered

Scientists ran simulations on a hypothetical planet, finding JWST could spot the gasses in just five flybys as easily as it could ozone on Earth

And the system revealed that JWST detected the gasses with just five transits for high concentrations like 100 parts per million (ppm). 

Another advantage of searching for the greenhouse proposed gases is that they are exceptionally long-lived and would persist in an Earth-like atmosphere for up to 50,000 years. 

‘They wouldn’t need to be replenished too often for a hospitable climate to be maintained,’ Schwieterman said. 

Other members of the research team echoed Schwieterman’s  enthusiasm for the potential of finding signs of intelligent life, but also for how much closer current technology has brought us to that goal.

Daniel Angerhausen at Swiss Federal Institute of Technology said: ‘Our thought experiment shows how powerful our next-generation telescopes will be. 

‘We are the first generation in history that has the technology to systematically look for life and intelligence in our galactic neighborhood.’

Source: daily mail

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Scientists closer to finding alien life after uncovering new ‘telltale signs’ of an inhabited planet

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