the James Webb Space Telescope The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) would be able to spot signs of our civilization on Earth if it were spying on us from another star system in the Milky Way, a new study shows. This discovery raises hopes that modern spacecraft will be able to discover alien civilizations as they look toward distant worlds in our galaxy.
Since its launch in late 2021, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has mostly looked into outer space The deepest depths of the universe Searching for clues about how the early universe formed. But one of the telescope’s secondary goals is to analyze the atmospheres of nearby exoplanets, or planets outside the solar system, to look for gases produced by biological life, known as biosignatures, and chemicals produced by advanced alien civilizations, known as technological signatures.
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But despite being the most advanced telescope currently in operation, it’s still unclear how capable the James Webb Space Telescope is of detecting signs of intelligent life. To answer this question, the researchers decided to test whether a space telescope could successfully detect intelligent life from the only planet in the universe known to be habitable and currently inhabited: Earth.
In the new study, it was uploaded to a preprint server arXiv On August 28, researchers took a spectrum of Earth’s atmosphere and downgraded the data to mimic how it would look to an observer dozens of light-years away. The team then used a computer model, which replicated the sensing capabilities of the James Webb Space Telescope, to see if the spacecraft could detect key biosignatures and technical signatures from the data set, such as methane and oxygen, which are produced by biological life, nitrogen dioxide and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). ). Produced by humans.
The results, which have not yet been peer-reviewed, show that the James Webb Space Telescope can likely detect all the major signs of intelligent and non-intelligent life in our planet’s atmosphere.
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The quality of the variable data set is approximately equivalent, the researchers noted JWST observations of the planets from TRAPPIST-1 – A star system containing seven exoplanets orbiting a red dwarf star about 40 light-years from Earth. This suggests that the telescope should be able to detect life or alien civilizations on exoplanets 40 light-years from Earth. But the team believes that the James Webb Space Telescope may be able to detect signs of extraterrestrial life at a distance of up to 50 light-years from Earth.
Only about 20 exoplanets have been officially discovered within a 50 light-year radius of Earth, but based on the number of suspected stars in this region of space, experts predict there may already be as many as 4,000 exoplanets within reach of the James Webb Space Telescope. , according to Eden Projectan international astronomical collaboration dedicated to finding potentially habitable planets near Earth.
However, this does not guarantee that the James Webb Space Telescope will be able to detect life on other planets.
The discovery of biosignatures and technosignatures on other worlds “may be difficult to interpret without contextual knowledge about the habitable environment,” the researchers wrote. They added that in this study, the team already knew what signs to look for, but on an exoplanet with different conditions and potential alternative life forms or technologies, these signs of life may not be as obvious.
The James Webb Space Telescope has already made some interesting discoveries about near-Earth exoplanets. Telescope Water detected on Neptune-sized exoplanet GJ 1214bwhich is about 40 light-years from Earth, and found that TRAPPIST-1b, the second closest exoplanet to the star in the TRAPPIST-1 system, It probably has no atmosphere at all Because of its extreme heat. The spacecraft also observed A Giant atmospheric dust storm for VHS 1256 ban extrasolar planet, “super-Jupiter,” 40 light-years from Earth.
Closer to home, he also discovered the James Webb Space Telescope Giant geysers pouring from Saturn’s moon EnceladusWhich can contain the chemical components necessary for life. Beyond the universe, spacecraft have done so, too Potentially life-giving carbon compounds have been glimpsed in an infant star system More than 1000 light years from Earth.