Exoplanets rich in oxygen may be lifeless

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(ORDO NEWS) — Not so long ago, it was believed that if oxygen and organic molecules were found on an eco-planet, then we could argue about the presence of extraterrestrial life forms.

However, according to the results of new research, this judgment of astrobiologists turned out to be erroneous.

A team of scientists led by Johns Hopkins University astrobiologist Chao He created a simulation of different types of exoplanet atmospheres.

During the experiment, they managed to synthesize oxygen and even carbon-containing molecules in the atmosphere, which are an organic “building material” for life forms similar to the earth.

“Astrobiologists were convinced that the discovery of oxygen, coupled with organic molecules, would be proof of the presence of life on a particular planet,” He commented.

“We were able to prove that it is possible to create such mixtures without the participation of living organisms.”

It turns out that even if astronomers can find a planet with a dense, oxygenated atmosphere, and also fix traces of organic matter, this will not unambiguously indicate the presence of life.

He’s team created nine different mixtures in the lab that simulated the atmospheres of exoplanets ranging from super-Earths to mini-Neptunes.

Compounds such as carbon dioxide, water vapor, methane and ammonia have been used. They heated the “atmospheres” from 0 to 300 degrees Celsius, irradiating them with ultraviolet light, like starlight.

Exoplanets rich in oxygen may be lifeless 2

After that, the team analyzed the mixtures and confirmed the presence of oxygen and organic compounds. As you can see, all this had an abiotic origin.


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