The James Webb Telescope continues to prepare for its first missions into deep space. He slowly turns his devices on and opens his sun visors, and is now in the process of aligning his mirrors in preparation for operation.
And in a few months, when the world’s most powerful space telescope, NASA’s, begins its operations to unravel the mysteries of the universe, there is a chance that it will discover extraterrestrial life or even signs of an advanced extraterrestrial civilization on planets outside the solar system – if they exist.
The capabilities of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) to detect signs of habitability as well as atmospheric and surface fingerprints of life on other planets may help find alien life on exoplanets, said astrobiologists, including from NASA and Penn State University in the US.
And in a recent study that has not yet been peer-reviewed, published earlier this month in the journal ArXiv, scientists said that with the right settings on the powerful telescope, astronomers might even be able to detect chemical markers of potential chemical chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) The planet is inhabited by an advanced alien civilization.
Although these ozone-depleting chemicals have been banned on Earth by most countries since 1987, they have persisted due to their long life in the outer layers of the planet’s atmosphere, and their presence is a “direct result of technology,” according to the scientists.
They believe that these artificial components of the atmosphere could indicate the presence of advanced technology and act as “technical fingerprints” in the search for alien life.
“Biological signatures generally refer to any evidence of life that can be detected from a distance, while technical signatures (fingerprints) specifically describe observational evidence of technology that can be detected by astronomical means,” the scientists wrote in the study.
“The technical signatures are a logical continuation of the search for biometrics, both of which draw on the history of life and technology on Earth as examples of planetary evolution,” the team explained.
In other words, some of humanity’s worst byproducts – pollution – may be the very thing that makes us detectable. This means that we may be able to find other species that treat their planet’s atmosphere with equal disregard.
While astrobiologists have theorized to apply several classes of technical fingerprints in the search for advanced alien life, including lighting at night, waste heat (from industries and homes), and giant artificial structures, they said industrial pollution could be promising chemical components of research. More about exoplanets with the potential to host alien life.
One such example, the scientists explained, is nitrogen dioxide (NO2), which has larger sources of combustion on Earth than non-human sources.
They note that LUVOIR, or the Ultraviolet Optical Infrared Scanner, a space telescope concept developed by NASA for the future, could detect nitrogen dioxide in exoplanets.
The scientists added that CFCs could also be potential technology fingerprints indicating “ongoing industrial processes”.
However, the team acknowledged that there are several limitations to the James Webb Space Telescope’s ability to find CFCs on other planets.
The scientists explained that planets that host alien life must be located within the habitable zone of their star, where the temperature and other factors are well suited to maintaining liquid water.
The study indicated that if the star of this planet is very bright, it may also lead to the dumping of the technical footprint.
The scientists explained that the chances of success might be high if James Webb looks at M-class stars – dark, long-lived red dwarfs – such as nearby TRAPPIST-1, which is about 40 light-years away with many Earth-sized planets orbiting in its habitable zone.
Scientists warn that M-class stars may not always be conducive to life because they can be unstable, sending powerful solar flares when they are young, but if they slow down as they get older, their temperate regions may be more habitable.
“In summary, it is likely that the absorption properties of trichlorofluoromethane (CFC-11) and dichlorodifluoromethane (CFC-12) may be detectable by upcoming missions such as the James Webb Telescope,” the team said, adding that the new findings and study methodology may It further assists in setting observational thresholds for detecting specific technological fingerprints on other planets.
Source: The Independent
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