(ORDO NEWS) — The search for biosignatures is by far the most versatile way to find signs of alien life in other star systems.
Most often, researchers use oxygen and methane. However, now this list has been replenished with a new substance.
Laughing gas could be used as a biosignature to search for life on other planets
In a new paper published in The Astrophysical Journal, scientists at the University of California, Riverside have concluded that nitric oxide (N2O), or laughing gas, could be a marker for the presence of life on other planets.
“In a star system like TRAPPIST-1, the closest and best system for observing the atmospheres of rocky planets, you could potentially detect nitric oxide at levels comparable to CO2 or methane,” said astrobiologist Eddie Schwieterman, co-author of the study. Schwieterman).
According to the researchers, some microorganisms release laughing gas during metabolism. This gas can then be released into the atmosphere. It is in the atmosphere that telescopes will detect N2O.
Why haven’t scientists considered nitric oxide as a marker before?
Previously, researchers did not consider N2O as a marker of extraterrestrial life, since there is not too much of this gas on our planet.
However, in the new work, scientists note that other exoplanets may have conditions more suitable for the creation of this gas.
Also, stars that are dimmer than the Sun are less likely to tear this gas apart. This is shown by a number of computer simulations.
Laughing gas could well become a biosignature that can be studied in other star systems, the researchers say.
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