Universe

Oxygen is not guarantee for presence of extraterrestrial life

A recent study may eliminate false positive readings of signals of extraterrestrial life on other planets. It turns out that the presence of oxygen in the atmosphere of exo-planets is not a guarantor for the presence of life.One of the most currently used methods of searching for extraterrestrial life is the analysis of atmospheres of distant planets. The goal of exploration is obvious: oxygen. Gas, which on Earth is derived mainly from photosynthesize for plants and algae. Oxygen is one of the essential signatures of life. But are you sure? We doubt it.

The composition of the atmospheres of exo-planets scientists determine on the basis of transit, or pass through the shield of the parent star. This method allows you to study the chemical composition of the atmosphere of the planet. The light passing through the upper layers of the atmosphere are changing their spectrum-analysis of this phenomenon provides information about existing elements there. However, it appears that the detection of oxygen in the atmosphere of exo-planets can be too quickly considered as equality to the presence for living organisms.

drake-equation
The Drake equation is a probabilistic argument used to arrive at an estimate of the number of active, communicative extraterrestrial civilizations in the Milky Way galaxy.

A recent study revealed two cases in which the presence of oxygen in the atmosphere of a distant planet may give false positive indicator of the presence of life. In both cases, the oxygen in the atmosphere of expo-planets is the result of abiotic production.

In one of the scenarios analyse ultraviolet light coming from the stars smaller than the Sun can damage present in the atmosphere of exo-planets carbon dioxide, releasing oxygen molecules from it. Computer simulations have shown that disintegration of CO2 gives not only O2, but large amounts of carbon monoxide (CO). If the gas is detected next to oxygen in the atmosphere of exo-planets can indicate this on the hoax.

Another scenario concerns the stars with low weight. Emitted by light may promote the formation of short-lived particles O4. Their detection next to the O2 also fire alarm light astronomers.

A more accurate analysis of distant exo-planets will be possible thanks to the Cosmic James Webb Telescope, which is scheduled to be inducted into orbit already in 2018.