New way to research the existence of life on other planets


Various plants and microorganisms emit gases that help them expel toxins and a group of scientists believe that these gases could provide evidence for the existence of life on other planets.

These types of gases are produced when an organism adds carbon and three hydrogen atoms to an unwanted chemical element in a process called methylation. It’s such a prevalent process on Earth that they expect life elsewhere. “achieve”said Michaela Leung of University of California Riverside (USA).

This process can convert potential toxins into gases that float safely in the atmosphere. If these gases were detected in the atmosphere of another planet by telescopes, would be indicative of the existence of life somewhere on this planet.

Methyl bromide, a gas with advantages for finding life on other planets

a methylated gas, methyl bromide, it has several advantages over other gases traditionally used in the search for life outside the solar system, according to Leung, who led a study published by Astrophysical Journal.

This gas remains in the atmosphere for less time than traditional biosignal gases and, if found, “It was most likely it does not take long, and that what made it continues to produce”, he claimed. Also, methyl bromide is more likely to be produced by something living than a gas like methane, which can be produced by microbes. But it could also be the product of a volcano or some other geological process.

The scientist indicated that there are few ways to create methylene bromide through non-biological means, “it is therefore more revealing of life if it is found”. Although methyl bromide is extremely widespread on Earth, it is not easily detectable in our atmosphere by the intensity of ultraviolet light from the Sun, but the study indicates that it would be more so in other types of stars that are smaller, cooler and more abundant, such as M red dwarfs.

For this reason, the researchers are optimistic that astrobiologists will begin to consider methyl bromide in future missions and in their planning for telescope capabilities to launch in the coming decades. The team wants to study the possibility that other methylated gases serve as a target in the search for extraterrestrial life, since this group of gases is particularly associated with life.

Character font: EFE, 20 minutes,

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