Scientists searching for intelligent life elsewhere in the cosmos have been hunting for a range of indicators concerning other planets’ capabilities to support life comparable to ours.
It’s crucial to remember that life may exist in a variety of conditions that aren’t ideal for people, as evidenced by samples of unusual bacteria acquired from remote parts of the globe.
Nonetheless, most scientists feel that the best chance we have of discovering species similar to ourselves is to look for other areas in the cosmos with comparable chemical compositions, the most essential of which are water and oxygen.
According to a recent research published in The Astrophysical Journal, a team led by Junzhi Wang, an astronomer at the Shanghai Astronomical Observatory, identified oxygen in a distant galaxy known as “Markarian 231,” which is located 581 million light-years away from our own Milky Way.
Wang and his colleagues discovered the ’11–10 transition of molecular oxygen’ using the ‘IRAM 30 m telescope and the Northern Extended Millimeter Array Interferometer.’
This is just the third time oxygen has been discovered elsewhere in the cosmos in the last 20 years, and both of the previous discoveries were in our own galaxy. Oxygen has also been identified in the Rho Ophiuchi cloud, which is 350 light-years distant from Earth, and the Orion Nebula, which is 1,344 light-years away.
According to Swinburne University, Markarian 231 was found in 1969, and despite its great distance, it is still the nearest quasar we know of.
The researchers stress that these findings do not necessarily imply that people would be able to thrive in this environment, as humans require other essential chemical elements like nitrogen, carbon dioxide, and methane to breathe and survive.
New astrochemical models are needed to explain the inferred high molecular oxygen abundance “in such locations many kiloparsecs out from the core of galaxies,” according to the researchers.
For the first time in history, scientists revealed the finding of a habitable planet with water last year. The planet is known as “K2-18b,” and astronomers believe it may be home to extraterrestrial life. The planet is huge, with an estimated size of more than double that of Earth.
Scientists now lack the technology to establish whether or not the planet has any living organisms; all they know is that it has water. Scientists are expected to develop telescopes powerful enough to detect gasses in the planet’s atmosphere in the next 10 years, which might provide clues as to what is going on on the surface.
The findings were reported in Nature Astronomy, a scientific magazine.
Prof Giovanna Tinetti of University College London (UCL), the principal scientist, stated that this planet appears to be in the ideal condition for life to thrive, similar to Earth. According to Tinetti, this is the first time researchers have found water on a planet in a habitable zone with temperatures in the right range.