James Web Space Telescope finds possible dimethyl sulfide in exoplanet atmosphere. A sign of life? – Scotsman comment
Is there life in outer space? For many, the answer is simple: of course. In the vastness of the universe, Earth simply cannot be alone. Despite such certainty, however, extraterrestrial life has proved to be rather elusive. If anyone is out there, they are keeping their curtains closed and pretending to be out.
But now, the Webb Space Telescope may have caught a glimpse of movement at a window on a planet just 120 light-years away – practically a neighbour, galactically speaking. Buried in a statement headlined “Webb Discovers Methane, Carbon Dioxide in Atmosphere of K2-18 b”, it emerged that humanity’s best telescope had also “provided a possible detection of a molecule called dimethyl sulfide (DMS). On Earth, this is only produced by life.” It quickly stressed that “further validation” of the finding was required.
DMS – emitted on Earth by a type of plankton – is one of the smells of the sea, although unfortunately not the fresh ‘iodine’ aroma but a stale, sulphury one. So not so much ET, more a stinky micro-organism. But still, if this is life, what a moment!
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