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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

12/5/2013 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Astrobiologists are working on techniques that will one day detect life on other planets.

It's an exciting time to be an astrobiologist. New observations with the Hubble Space Telescope have discovered at least five planets near ours where water vapor is present in the atmosphere. This increases the chances that life is out there, near us.

Where we find water, we may find life.

Where we find water, we may find life.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

12/5/2013 (1 year ago)

Published in Technology

Keywords: astrobiology, life, extraterrestrial, planets, Hubble, telescope, discovery, water


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - A new observing technique which studies the light of a star as it passes through the atmosphere of a planet is revealing that at least five nearby planets have water vapor in their atmosphere.

Water is thought to be a fundamental prerequisite for life as we know it.

The next generation of space telescopes will also make it much easier to perform similar observations and to search for biomarkers-- chemical traces of life in alien atmospheres.

Using the Hubble, astronomers analyzed starlight passing through the atmospheres of five Jupiter-sized planets. All five planets revealed they have water in their atmosphere. Although the likelihood of life on these planets is low, given their extreme masses and hot temperatures, the technique which will be regularly used with upcoming space telescopes, will allow astronomers to detect the possible presence of life on alien worlds.

That water was detected shouldn't surprise astronomers however, given that water is actually quite abundant in the universe.

Still, finding a planet where liquid water exists and all other conditions for life are met is difficult. Astronomers say that were surprised at the number of planets where water appeared to be absent or barely detectable.

Finding liquid water on planets similar to Earth in nearby planetary systems will be our best chance for finding life. Upcoming searchers will have increasingly narrow focuses as we eliminate nearby systems that have little chance for life and focus efforts on those planets where all the prerequisites appear to be met.

With each new milestone discovery, we come closer to answering one of the most basic questions of the modern age: are we truly alone in the universe, or is it teeming with life?

A birth foretold: click here to learn more!

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