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Planets with oxygen and organic compounds not necessarily mean life, says study

New Delhi, News Nation Bureau | Updated : 20 December 2018, 09:50 PM
Planets with oxygen and organic compounds not necessarily mean life (Representational Image)
Planets with oxygen and organic compounds not necessarily mean life (Representational Image)

As per a recent study, the presence of oxygen and organic compounds on a planet may not necessarily mean that it inhabits life. In general, scientists and researchers who are studying far planets in solar systems often accepts the fact that presence of oxygen and organic compounds is a sign of life on that planet.

Chao He, Assistant Research Scientist at the Johns Hopkins University in the US produced an atmosphere in the lab containing both oxygen organic compounds which is basically considered as an evidence for the presence of life on a distant planet.

He said, "Our experiments produced oxygen and organic molecules that could serve as the building blocks of life in the lab, proving that the presence of both doesn't definitively indicate life. Researchers need to more carefully consider how these molecules are produced’’.

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The team of researchers tested nine different types of gases mixtures which is considered as a benchmark for predicting for super-Earth and mini-Neptune type exoplanet atmospheres.

Each mixture has a specific composition of gases including carbon dioxide, water, ammonia, and methane and each was heated at different temperatures ranging from 26 to 371 degrees Celsius.

Researchers even tried to introduce a mixture of one of the two types of energy which can trigger chemical reactions in planetary atmospheres such as plasma from an alternating current glow discharge or light from an ultraviolet lamp.

The experiment was run for three continuous days, the team of researchers measured and identified resulting gasses with a mass spectrometer, which is an instrument to sort chemical substances by their mass to charge ratio.

Chao said, "People used to suggest that oxygen and organics being present together indicates life, but we produced them abiotically in multiple simulations. This suggests that even the co-presence of commonly accepted biosignatures could be a false positive for life’’.

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The team found multiple scenarios which produced both oxygen and organic molecules that could build raw materials for which life could begin.

First Published: Thursday, December 20, 2018 09:50 PM
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