BREAKING NEWS: Astronomers Have Designed New Alien Hunting Tool

Since finding extraterrestrial life in outer space inspires astronomers, they come up with a new tool that can more effectively detect the presence of methane on other planets.

BREAKING NEWS: Astronomers Have Designed New Alien Hunting Tool

Whilst methane can be produced by geologic sources, the organic compound also could be a sign of biologic activity. That means finding methane in a planet’s atmosphere could be a potential sign of life. Detecting the chemical compound on other planets would be the clearest or possibly the easiest way to pinpoint the presence of extraterrestrial life. With the new model in hand, astronomers are hoping that the search for methane becomes much easier, even on planets with much higher temperatures than Earth.

With the aid of supercomputers, a team of scientists developed a new absorption spectrum for methane that’s 2,000 times more comprehensive than previous models and can detect the molecule at temperatures up to 2,228 degrees Fahrenheit (1,220 degrees Celsius), higher than before. 

BREAKING NEWS: Astronomers Have Designed New Alien Hunting Tool

The new spectrum was designed by scientists at University College London and the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. This new model is capable of detecting whether or not methane is absorbing light at nearly 10 billion different spectroscopic lines. With each line composed of a different color, astronomers will be able to gather much more detailed information about methane density across a wide variety of temperatures.

Current models of methane are incomplete, leading to a severe underestimation of methane levels on planets. We anticipate our new model will have a big impact on the future study of planets and ‘cool’ stars external to our solar system, potentially helping scientists identify signs of extraterrestrial life.” Professor Jonathan Tennyson, who co-authored the report on the tool.

BREAKING NEWS: Astronomers Have Designed New Alien Hunting Tool

The new calculations, led by Sergei Yurchenko, a researcher in physics and astronomy at University College London, resulted in a list of nearly 10 billion spectroscopic lines, each representing a distinct color at which methane can absorb light. 

So, to complete the task, they used some of the most advanced supercomputers in the United Kingdom, provided by the University of Cambridge’s Distributed Research utilizing Advanced Computing (DiRAC) project. According to Yurchengko,

We had to use a lot of computer power. It requires millions and millions of CPU [central processing unit] hours.”

The team believes their model could give scientists a more complete picture of the methane abundance on failed stars known as brown dwarfs and alien worlds. Furthermore, Yurchenko said that he is looking forward to the launch of future missions, such as the European Space Agency’s Exoplanet Characterization Observatory, or EChO, and NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, which might produce better data about a wider variety of alien worlds and that there are more research could be done to expand the model to include absorption lines for methane that’s at even higher temperatures.



via The Daily News

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