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Are Exoplanet's Seasonal Changes a Clue to Alien Life?

Are Exoplanet's Seasonal Changes a Clue to Alien Life?


By    |   Wednesday, 16 May 2018 01:02 PM

Could seasonal changes in an exoplanet's atmosphere offer a clue to alien life? Researchers seem to think so.

A new paper published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters has suggested that the presence of extraterrestrial life may be detected through analysis of the atmospheric conditions that occur through changes in seasons.

A research team at the University of California, Riverside's (UCR) Alternative Earths Astrobiology Center, developed a model based on Earth and how seasons and sunlight can affect its atmospheric composition, Fox News noted.

They aim to use this framework in their hunt for life on other planets through the use of next-generation telescopes that can measure the composition of gases surrounding planets outside our solar system.

New exoplanets are being discovered on a regular basis.

Most recently, a new Earth-sized planet, K2-229b, was located 339 light years away.

While the planet is not habitable, the discovery of another planet, Ross 128 b, which is located only 11 light-years from Earth, could offer favorable conditions to host life.

Determining whether there is life on these planets is a little tricky but perhaps by analyzing the seasonal changes to these exoplanets' atmospheres, they may finally find alien life.

The concept is based upon the sun's orbit of Earth.

Its tilted axis results in changes in weather and lengths of days to occur, but this also impacts atmospheric compositions.

This can be seen in the Northern Hemisphere, where plant growth in the summer leads to levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Researchers believe they can use this theory to monitor exoplanets for life.

"Atmospheric seasonality is a promising biosignature because it is biologically modulated on Earth and is likely to occur on other inhabited worlds," the study's lead author, Stephanie Olson, a graduate student in UCR’s Department of Earth Sciences, said in a statement.

"Inferring life based on seasonality wouldn’t require a detailed understanding of alien biochemistry because it arises as a biological response to seasonal changes in the environment, rather than as a consequence of a specific biological activity that might be unique to the Earth."

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Seasonal changes in an exoplanet's atmosphere may provide clues to alien life, according to research released this month.
exoplanet, seasonal changes, alien, life
Wednesday, 16 May 2018 01:02 PM
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