Whenever the James Webb Space Telescope makes a shocking new discovery, it’s sure to make headlines. For those interested in following along, I have written about Webb’s data and observations quite often. I even created an ultimate James Webb guide. However, recent rumors that Webb found alien life on another planet have started to circle. Are they true? No, they aren’t. Not yet, at least.
These rumors have sparked quite a debate in the scientific community, and while many say that we haven’t found alien life just yet, others argue that we’re going to get a paper with strong evidence of alien life on an exoplanet very soon. Does that mean life has been found?
The simple answer is that we’ve not found any evidence of life on another planet. It just means that Webb has picked up what could possibly be the biosignature of alien life on another planet. See, a planet known as K2-18 b is at the center of all this debate. And that planet seems to have given off strong signals of biological life.
However, as Ars Technica points out, this doesn’t mean that we’ve found life. First, this all needs to be confirmed. This is not the first instance that scientists have made a decision before they had all of the facts. In fact, we had someone claiming they’d found alien tech at the bottom of the ocean last year. But, more in-depth analysis showed the items were likely just debris.
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The real culprit here is a molecule known as dimethyl sulfide. Webb detected this on K2-18 b last year, and many have debated over what it could mean. See, on Earth, this particular molecule is only made by living things. However, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist separate from alien life on K2-18 b. As such, we can’t definitively say that dimethyl sulfide existing on the planet is evidence that Webb detected alien life.
It is a nuanced issue, but it’s the way things usually go in space exploration. Perhaps future investigations of K2-18 b will present the evidence we need to say we have detected alien life definitively. Alternatively, further investigation may completely disprove these claims. We’ll see.
The post Did James Webb find life on an alien planet? What you need to know appeared first on BGR.