EVEN IF ALIEN WORLDS ARE OXYGEN-RICH, THEY STILL MAY NOT BE UNHABITABLE
Oxygen is not a convincing sign of alien life anymore. A new study suggests that even the presence of acknowledged biosignatures could falsely indicate the existence of life. Oxygen and methane are byproducts of living organisms, scientists use them as determinants for the presence of organisms.
Recently, there was a discovered exoplanet which had possible biosignatures such as methane and oxygen. There is uncertainty from an incomplete comprehension of the said exoplanet. Experts think that there may be some strange inorganic chemistry happening there that imitates the atmospheric signals that living organisms manufacture on Earth.
The new research implies that this concern is justified. Nine gas mixtures found in the atmospheres of mini-Neptune and super-Earth alien planets were studied. The said alien worlds are much larger than Earth but smaller than the giant planets Uranus and Neptune. The gas mixtures contained known gases such as ammonia, carbon dioxide, water, and methane.
Scientists exposed the gases to a range of temperatures (80 degrees F [27 degrees C] to 700 degrees F [370 degrees C]). They then fired plasma and UV light at the gases, to stimulate reactions from them. After three days, the oxygen, hydrogen cyanide, and formaldehyde were produced, all of which life identifying compounds.