NASA’s space telescope may help find planets with oxygen

Washington: Researchers in a recent study have found out how to use NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope for quickly identifying nearby planets that could help in researchers search for life and search of the worlds that are uninhabitable due to vapourisation of oceans.

Since exoplanets which are planets around other stars are generally at a distance, scientists are not able to find signs of life by visiting the distant worlds. Therefore, the scientists use a particular telescope like Webb to visualise the inside atmosphere of exoplanets. The presence of oxygen in the atmosphere of exoplanets is a biosignature or indication of life.

In a recent study, scientists have found that oxygen molecules collide to produce a strong signal and according to scientists, Webb can detect the signal present in the atmosphere of exoplanets.

Scientists conducted the research using a computer model for simulating this oxygen signature, by modelling the atmosphere of an exoplanet present near an M dwarf which is the most common type of star present in the universe.

When oxygen molecules collide with each other or with other molecules in the exoplanet’s atmosphere, energy from the collision puts the oxygen molecule in a special state that temporarily allows it to absorb the infrared light. Infrared light is invisible to the human eye, but detectable using instruments attached to telescopes.


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