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Alien life forms could glow, say scientists

Posted on Friday, 23 August, 2019 | Comment icon 5 comments

Image Credit: Roberto Molar Candanosa / Scott Sheppard / Carnegie Institution for Science
It may be possible to detect signs of extraterrestrial life on a distant world by picking up its biofluorescence.
One of the problems astronomers have come up against in the hunt for habitable extrasolar worlds is that most of the promising candidates found so far are in orbit around red dwarf stars.

These small, cool stars have the unfortunate tendency to release bursts of harmful ultraviolet radiation, meaning that life on any nearby planet is going to be repeatedly exposed to it.

"A lot of the potentially habitable nearby planets we are starting to find are likely to be high-UV worlds," said study lead author Jack O'Malley-James. "[So] we were trying to think of ways that life could deal with the high levels of UV radiation that we expect on planets orbiting red dwarf stars."

While there are several ways life forms here on Earth protect themselves from ultraviolet radiation, one in particular stands out - biofluorescence - which enables some species of coral for instance to absorb some of the energy from each UV photon and shift it in to a longer and safer wavelength of light.

If a distant extrasolar world were to be home to enough fluorescing creatures, it may one day be possible to pick up the light that they are giving off using powerful telescopes here on Earth.

The close-up appearance of such a world would also be nothing short of spectacular.

"[If the evolution of such life forms can be demonstrated on a small scale in the lab,] a more long-term next step would be to actually start looking for biofluorescence on other worlds," said O'Malley-James.

Source: Live Science | Comments (5)

Tags: Alien, Planet

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Earl.Of.Trumps on 23 August, 2019, 19:41
Yeah, glow worms, fire flies.  Nothing magic there 
Comment icon #2 Posted by ThereWeAreThen on 25 August, 2019, 5:55
ET life could also be made out of marshmallow.....   Not really groundbreaking from them, sounds like they're bored.
Comment icon #3 Posted by Nnicolette on 27 August, 2019, 15:31
I hate all these wild baseless articles about speculation. Are they actually researching anything? What a ridiculous way to search for alien life. Theres things here that do that can you see them from space? Noooo
Comment icon #4 Posted by Dark_Grey on 27 August, 2019, 17:08
That's basically what I was about to post.  A planet with no clouds, covered in glowing creatures may produce light detectable by a high powered telescope. That's O'Malley's conclusion.  OK? Slow news week at the Royal Astronomical Society.
Comment icon #5 Posted by XenoFish on 27 August, 2019, 17:14
What's the point of looking for alien life if you don't brainstorm a few ideas. Might as well aim the telescope and look through them with your eyes closed.

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