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Alien life can exist without oxygen: Study


nasa-cosmos-6 By NewsGram Staff Writer

Oxygen is one of the essential criterions for life to exist. Or so has been thought till date.

Now, a Japanese researcher has dispelled that notion by presenting a novel hypothesis arguing that it could be possible for far-off planets to hold huge quantities of abiotic or non-biologically produced oxygen.

Norito Narita, assistant professor at the Astrobiology Center of National Institutes of Natural Sciences (NINS), has brought to light the possibility of production of abiotic oxygen through the photocatalytic reaction of titanium oxide, known to be abundant on distant planets and the moon.

According to Narita, “To search for life on extrasolar planets through astronomical observation, we need to combine the knowledge from various scientific fields and promote astrobiological researches to establish the decisive signs of life.”

Narita also argues the necessity of looking for new biomarkers besides oxygen from the present result, although oxygen still stands as one of possible biomarkers.

On Earth, plants continuously produce oxygen through photosynthesis.

Therefore, if a planet has an environment similar to the Sun-Earth system, a continuous photocatalytic reaction of titanium oxide on about 0.05 percent of the planet’s surface could enable it to produce the amount of oxygen found in the Earth’s current atmosphere.

The team also estimated the amount of possible oxygen production for habitable planets around other types of host stars with various masses and temperatures.

Another remarkable finding was the discovery that even in a least efficient production case of a low-temperature star, the photocatalytic reaction of titanium oxide on about 3 percent of the planetary surface could maintain this level of atmospheric oxygen through abiotic processes.

The author also noted that it was possible for a habitable extrasolar planet to maintain an atmosphere with Earth-like oxygen, even without organisms present to perform photosynthesis.

The paper, which appeared in the Scientific Reports journal, is a good example of an inter-disciplinary study which combines knowledge from different fields of science and promote astrobiology in the search for life on extra-solar planets.

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Aliens using Spoon on Mars? NASA Discovers a large spoon on the Red Planet’s surface

NASA rover discovers a large 'spoon' on the Red Planet's surface. NASA/JPL

December 27, 2016: In the ongoing search for life on Mars, alien enthusiasts found an exciting clue- a spoon.

From a NASA’s footage it appeared to show a large spoon on the Red Planet’s surface.
This is the second ‘spoon’ that is found on the sand-like surface of Mars in the recent years. Believers are claiming that it could be a proof of alien life on the planet. In fact, other things like, rings and gloves was also found.

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The video was uploaded by the UFO Hunter account to YouTube with a description saying, ‘There is a giant spoon on Mars! This thing is amazing! Probably left over from a lost civilization’

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The image(what appears to be) a spoon (and it really looks like that of a spoon) on Mars. Undoubtedly it could be a proof of alien life on the planet.

– by Pinaz Kazi of NewsGram. Twitter: @PinazKazi

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2.5 billion-year-old Fossils in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa Show Life Existed without Oxygen

Representational image. Pixabay

December 1, 2016: Researchers have discovered fossils of 2.5 billion-year-old sulfur-oxidising bacteria that existed just fine without any oxygen.

The ancient life forms were found fossilised in two separate locations in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa.

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“These are the oldest reported fossil sulfur bacteria to date,” said Andrew Czaja, Assistant Professor of Geology at University of Cincinnati in the US.

“And this discovery is helping us reveal a diversity of life and ecosystems that existed just prior to the Great Oxidation Event, a time of major atmospheric evolution,” Czaja noted.

These bacteria were thriving just before the era when other shallow water bacteria began creating more and more oxygen as a by-product of photosynthesis.

“We refer to this period as the Great Oxidation Event that took place 2.4 to 2.2 billion years ago,” Czaja said.

The 2.52 billion-year-old sulfur-oxidising bacteria are described by Czaja as exceptionally large, spherical-shaped, smooth-walled microscopic structures much larger than most modern bacteria.

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In the study published in journal Geology, Czaja and his colleagues revealed samples of bacteria that were abundant in deep water areas of the ocean in a geologic time known as the Neoarchean Eon (2.8 to 2.5 billion years ago).

“These fossils represent the oldest known organisms that lived in a very dark, deep water environment,” Czaja said.

“We discovered these microfossils preserved in a layer of hard silica-rich rock called chert located within the Kaapvaal craton of South Africa,” Czaja noted.

With an atmosphere of much less than one percent oxygen, scientists have presumed that there were things living in deep water in the mud that did not need sunlight or oxygen, but experts did not have any direct evidence for them until now, Czaja said.

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“These early bacteria likely consumed the molecules dissolved from sulfur-rich minerals that came from land rocks that had eroded and washed out to sea, or from the volcanic remains on the ocean’s floor,” he added.(IANS)

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Exoplanet may be brimming with oxygen but not life, say Researchers

Astronomer Laura Schaefer and her colleagues examined the question of what would happen to GJ 1132b over time if it began with a steamy, water-rich atmosphere

Little Cub galaxy
The Little Cub galaxy - so called because it sits in the Ursa Major or Great Bear constellation. Galaxy (Representational Image). Wikimedia

New York, August 19: A Venus-like exoplanet may have an atmosphere with oxygen but not life, researchers report, adding that their magma ocean-atmosphere model can help solve the puzzle of how Venus evolved over time.

The distant planet GJ 1132b is located just 39 light-years from Earth. It might have an atmosphere despite being baked to a temperature of around 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

“This planet might be the first time we detect oxygen on a rocky planet outside the solar system,” said study co-author Robin Wordsworth from Harvard Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Astronomer Laura Schaefer from Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and her colleagues examined the question of what would happen to GJ 1132b over time if it began with a steamy, water-rich atmosphere.

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Orbiting so close to its star, at a distance of just 1.4 million miles, the planet is flooded with ultraviolet or UV light.

UV light breaks apart water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen, both of which then can be lost into space.

However, since hydrogen is lighter it escapes more readily, while oxygen lingers behind.

“On cooler planets, oxygen could be a sign of alien life and habitability. But on a hot planet like GJ 1132b, it’s a sign of the exact opposite — a planet that’s being baked and sterilised,” said Schaefer in a statement.

Since water vapour is a greenhouse gas, the planet would have a strong greenhouse effect, amplifying the star’s already intense heat.

As a result, its surface could stay molten for millions of years.

If any oxygen does still cling to GJ 1132b, next-generation telescopes like the Giant Magellan Telescope and James Webb Space Telescope may be able to detect and analyse it.

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Venus probably began with Earth-like amounts of water, which would have been broken apart by sunlight.

Yet it shows few signs of lingering oxygen. The missing oxygen problem continues to baffle astronomers. (IANS)