May 18, 2024

NASA detects molecule on another planet that can only be produced by life: The planet, K2-18b, is about 120 light years from Earth

“NASA scientists have detected evidence of possible life on a planet over 100 light years away.

The space agency’s James Webb Space Telescope discovered a molecule called dimethyl sulphide, or DMS, on the distant planet, which on Earth can only be produced by life, according to a report from the BBC.

‘On Earth, DMS is only produced by life. The bulk of it in Earth’s atmosphere is emitted from phytoplankton in marine environments,’ University of Cambridge Profesor Nikku Madhusudhan, who led the research, told the BBC.”

“The discovery marks the first time astronomers have detected possible DMS in a planet orbiting a distant star, according to the report.

Along with the discovery of DMS, NASA researchers say they have also detected methane and CO2 in the planet’s atmosphere, a sign the planet could be the home of a water ocean.

The planet, named K2-18b, is located about 120 light years away and is almost nine times the size of Earth. The distant planet had already ticked all the boxes researchers generally look for when evaluating whether a planet can support life, including its temperature, the presence of carbon and potentially liquid water.” 

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