There has been much talk lately about aliens, UPA’s, recovered crashed spacecraft, and ancient aliens. While there seems to be some legitimacy to many of these claims, the mainstream scientific community has largely stayed out of the conversation. Alien bodies certainly make for compelling headlines and fun YouTube videos; however, the likelihood that there is life in the universe and that we will discover it is likely relegated to long-range telescopes and the exploration of distant planets via these means.
To this end, the biggest, most advanced telescope humans utilize, The James Webb Space Telescope, has possibly uncovered evidence of an ocean world much larger than Earth with conditions that could theoretically support life.
While the discovery isn’t as exciting as mummified alien bodies in Mexico, it still stands as our best discovery to date of possible alien life. The exoplanet, known as K2-18 b was first discovered in 2015 and is more than 120 light-years from Earth. However, the advanced capabilities of the Webb Telescope have allowed a closer look at the giant.
NASA said Monday: “The abundance of methane and carbon dioxide, and a shortage of ammonia, support the hypothesis that there may be a water ocean underneath a hydrogen-rich atmosphere in K2-18 b.”
The planet orbits a red dwarf star labeled K2-18 in what is known as a “habitable zone.” In short, it is the region around the host star where water could theoretically pool into oceans, lakes, and rivers, thus facilitating life.
The planet appears to be larger than our own, yet smaller than Neptune. There are no planets in our own solar system resembling this, and researchers have been debating their atmospheric conditions for some time.
The telescope discovered a molecule called dimethyl sulfide on the distant planet. The startling discovery was made even more so by the fact that on Earth, only life produces this molecule.
University of Cambridge Profesor Nikku Madhusudhan, who led the research, said this: “On Earth, DMS is only produced by life. The bulk of it in Earth’s atmosphere is emitted from phytoplankton in marine environments.”
The Webb Telescope evaluates planets by analyzing the light that passes through the atmosphere. The light contains chemical signatures of molecules. “The details can be deciphered by splitting the light into its constituent frequencies – rather like a prism creating a rainbow spectrum. If parts of the resulting spectrum are missing, it has been absorbed by chemicals in the planet’s atmosphere, enabling researchers to discover its composition.”
Dr. Robert Massey, the research and deputy director of the Royal Astronomical Society in London, expressed cautious optimism and said: ”We are slowly moving toward the point where we will be able to answer that big question as to whether we are alone in the universe or not,” Massey said. ”I’m optimistic that we will one day find signs of life. Perhaps it will be this, perhaps in 10 or even 50 years we will have evidence that is so compelling that it is the best explanation.”
While it would be much more exciting to produce real alien spacecraft and preserved alien bodies, the scientific fact is if there is life, it is likely in the form of microbes rather than little green men. The Webb Telescope is helping us discern, and find real life in the universe.
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