The Search for Extraterrestrial Life: Where Scientists Are Looking

The vastness of space makes it unlikely that we are alone in the universe. Scientists are actively searching for signs of life beyond Earth, from our solar system to the most distant galaxies. This article explores 32 unique places where scientists have looked or hope to look for extraterrestrial life, including Neptune’s moon Triton, Mars, the exoplanet Kepler-186f, and even parallel universes.

JWST’s Earth-Like Planet Detection: Clouds or Methane?

Initial observations from the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) hinted at the presence of dimethyl sulfide (DMS) in the atmosphere of a distant Earth-like planet, K2-18b. However, a new study suggests that the signal could be from methane clouds, casting doubt on the earlier claims of potential life detection. The study models the behavior of DMS in hydrogen-rich atmospheres and finds itunlikely that JWST could distinguish between DMS and methane in the specific wavelengths it examined. However, the team remains hopeful, as JWST’s Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) may be more capable of detecting DMS and clarifying the planet’s composition.

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