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Has the James Webb Space Telescope found evidence of alien life ?

By T.K. Randall
January 17, 2024 · Comment icon 38 comments

An artist's impression of K2-18 b. Image Credit: NASA
For a while now, rumors have circulated about the discovery of an exoplanet with strong signs of life.
It goes without saying that the discovery of extraterrestrial life on another world would be one of the greatest scientific discoveries of all time.

With powerful space telescopes such as the James Webb being capable of directly observing the atmospheres of distant planets in far-off solar systems, we are now entering an era of astronomy in which such a discovery might not just be possible, but inevitable.

For some time now, rumors have circulated the Internet suggesting that the flagship telescope may have in fact already found an extrasolar world exhibiting all the hallmarks of life.

Astronaut Tim Peake recently raised eyebrows when he said:

"Potentially, the James Webb telescope may have already found [alien life]... it's just that they don't want to release or confirm those results until they can be entirely sure, but we found a planet that seems to be giving off strong signals of biological life."

So what planet could he be referring to ?
The answer, some believe, is K2-18 b - a "hycean" exoplanet situated 120 light-years away with a mass approximately 8.6 times that of the Earth.

This intriguing world is believed to have liquid water oceans on its surface and a hydrogen-rich atmosphere, making it the most promising planet so far in the hunt for alien life.

That said, it is not currently possible to confirm that there is actually life there.

"JWST has not found definitive evidence of life on an exoplanet," James Webb deputy project scientist Knicole Colon recently told Ars Technica.

"It is anticipated that JWST observations may lead to the initial identification of potential biosignatures that could make habitability more or less likely for a given exoplanet."

"Future missions will be needed to conclusively establish the habitability of an exoplanet."

Source: Ars Technica | Comments (38)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #29 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 4 months ago
It is a combination of mass and diameter, i.e. density   The issue on a Neptune like world is not so much the surface gravity as the atmospheric pressure. The surface gravity at the bottom of the ocean is not significantly higher than on the land, but a human like species is not going to be walking around down there. It's the pressure that will squish them not the gravity.
Comment icon #30 Posted by joc 4 months ago
The problem with that of course is that, you cannot logically use a manu full of errors to justify anything relevant about something totally disassociated with said manu.  In other cannot use the Bible to prove Science correct...because they are 180°  out of phase.
Comment icon #31 Posted by Piney 4 months ago
I missed this. They are pretty pro-science except for the radicals, especially in the U.S. Google "St. Abertus Magnus" and "Jesuit scientists". Old Albert was saying demonology was superstitious garbage in the 1200s. 
Comment icon #32 Posted by Alchopwn 4 months ago
Was her father Sam the Toucan?If you know what I'm sayin'
Comment icon #33 Posted by Piney 4 months ago
Your a theological historian and never read 'The Great Controversy'?  My Swarthmore tutor made me read EVERYBODY!!!!!
Comment icon #34 Posted by Nicolette 4 months ago
I never said it was proof, but generally when there are stories of the unexplained or rare occurrences that people felt were important enough to retell and memorialize around the world for thousands of years it is because they thought it was worth talking about. If taken literally many are encounters and the focus seems to be visitors from above. Not all stories are true, but it always worth paying attention to matching details and taking everything into account when putting together puzzles. They are not opposites at all though when you keep in mind that people were trying to retell things th... [More]
Comment icon #35 Posted by Nicolette 4 months ago
Thats what I was trying to say but i get distracted... taken literally it seems like it is all about visitors from the sky and thier interactions with people.   
Comment icon #36 Posted by Nicolette 4 months ago
I think they said an ice crust on the ocean. So like europa? Judging from the red residue churning out onto the ice i bet there is life in europa too. Anyways you can walk on ice.... just saying. Not that they necessarily need to be humanlike. Aquatic life is also life and it exists under high pressure. We might struggle to accomodate the pressure but thats definitely not an impossibility for something as resiliant as life. 
Comment icon #37 Posted by Trelane 4 months ago
Or.... the items described in the Bible (like many old and ancient texts) were simply literary mechanisms to help build the story they wished to tell. Not some Hancockian notion of everything is a historical recounting of actual events.
Comment icon #38 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 4 months ago
I seem to start most of my replies to you with, "what are you talking about?" and then, at some stage in the reply make the suggesting that you should actually read the comments you are replying to so as not to make yourself look silly. Unfortunately this is no exception so... What are you talking about? Maybe you should read the posts you are commenting on so as not to make yourself look silly. My reply was to @DieChecker who was also talking about a Neptune like world. The only person that mentioned an ocean was @psyche101 who posted the following: (my emphasis) So these worlds are totally u... [More]

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