Research continues. relentless. But scientists still haven’t found any signs of life anywhere else in the universe. For now, anyway. So much hope rests on the Webb Space Telescope. This would really open up access to important information on the atmospheres of exoplanets. And researchers are now specifying precisely under what circumstances a detection of methane can be considered a convincing sign of life.
Methane. Chemical formula CH. with4, it is a powerful, Which we may have to hunt soon. like we’re already following (CO)2) To limit anthropogenic. but (United States), they propose to hunt for methane in a completely different place than our Earth’s atmosphere and for a completely different reason. because in Of exoplanets, it may mark the presence of extraterrestrial life forms.
– a sign that some form of life has passed. Especially interested in this today. because it may be detectable in the environment of some exoplanets (JWST). but be careful! Methane can, in fact, also be emitted by non-biological processes.
While awaiting JWST’s first observations, the researchers balked at this question. To follow up on their argument, it’s good to remember that methane doesn’t stay in the atmosphere for long. Within a few years, it was destroyed, Thus, the only explanation for trace amounts of methane in the atmosphere is the presence of a source that emits it more or less continuously.
Biosignature or not, the important thing is to avoid errors
And it is possible that non-biological sources also emit a lot of methane. Fromreactions that occur for example in mid-ocean ridge type environments, area of hydrothermal vent or tectonics or influence or , But what researchers at the University of California suggest today is that these sources will necessarily parallel other observable clues that betray the origins of all this CH.4, For example, volcanoes would add both methane and carbon to the atmosphere of rocky exoplanets. (CO). What organic sources will not do.
According to astronomers, therefore, if methane can provide an important clue, it remains only a simple piece of the puzzle., and study published in (United States) provides some guidelines to avoid “false positive”, To prevent researchers from missing out on the actual biosignature, unfortunately.
For example, a. FeatherOrbiting a star similar to our Sun, methane could begin to form a strong biosignature if said planet’s atmosphere also contains CO.2 and if ch4 Much more abundant than CO. but in In an extraterrestrial environment, there is still much to learn. And researchers at the University of California are calling for more work on the topic. Studies that can analyze even the most unusual mechanisms of non-organic methane production. as much as possible to avoid errors of interpretation of the results that may be transmitted too soon ,
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