Astronomers have found preliminary evidence of a sign of life on a planet 120 light-years away from Earth. The molecule has been found to consist only of living organisms on Earth.
Using the James Webb Space Telescope, scientists discovered the molecule dimethyl sulfide (DMS). On our planet, DMS is produced by plankton in seas and oceans. “Shocked,” writes the Cambridge University research team. BBC News.
The telescope was able to observe the molecule by analyzing the light coming through the atmospheres of distant planets. If some properties of the light are missing, researchers know that the light has been absorbed by molecules in that planet’s atmosphere. From this it was concluded that DMS exists.
Methane and carbon dioxide were also found in the planet’s atmosphere, which was named K2-18b. The proportions are roughly the same as they are on Earth, which could mean there are oceans.
The exoplanet is nine times larger than Earth
A habitable planet requires more than just certain materials and liquid water. Temperature is also important. But James Webb Telescope observations seem to indicate that K2-18b meets these requirements.
However, K2-18b is nothing like Earth; It’s an exoplanet. Exoplanets are located outside our solar system. K2-18b is about nine times the size of Earth and orbits a dwarf star. This is a much weaker source of light than our Sun.
The exoplanet is 120 light-years away from us. Therefore, researchers emphasize that more research is needed to confirm the existence of DMS. Results are expected within a year.
However, astronomers are excited. According to them, we are slowly moving towards answering the big question of whether or not we are alone in the universe.
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