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TagEuropa (life on Europa)

Deep Space

The Search for Extraterrestrial Life 16

The Webb wraps up a year of solid achievements, including the first direct image of an exoplanet

In our universe: Most distant galaxies observed in 2022: “Webb was made to observe the most distant galaxies in the universe, and in mid-December, scientists confirmed that they had done just that. The telescope has officially observed the four most distant galaxies known, which also means they are the oldest. Webb observed the galaxies as they appeared about 13.4 billion years ago, when the universe was only 350 million years old, about 2% of its current age.” – Rebecca Sohn, Space.com, December 29, 2022 Meanwhile, a much bigger telescope array, the multinational SKAO project, is under construction: Composed of respectively hundreds of dishes and thousands of antennas, the SKAO’s telescopes will be the two most advanced radio telescopes on Earth. Read More ›

James Webb Space Telescope in Space

News From the Search for Extraterrestrial Life 3

The Webb gets a good closer look at an exoplanet

Exoplanets are hard to spot but the James Webb Space Telescope got an image of one (HIP 65426b), reported September 1: The planet is more than 10,000 times fainter than its host star and about 100 times farther from it than Earth is from the Sun (~93 million miles), so it easily could be spotted when the telescope’s coronagraphs removed the starlight. The exoplanet is between six and 12 times the mass of Jupiter—a range that could be narrowed once the data in these images is analyzed. The planet is only 15 million to 20 million years old, making it very young compared to our 4.5-billion-year-old Earth. Isaac Schultz, “See Webb Telescope’s First Images of an Exoplanet” at Gizmodo (September Read More ›

Jupiter's moon Europa in front of the planet Jupiter

Why Scientists Think There Might Be Life on Europa

Jupiter’s moon Europa, somewhat smaller than Earth’s moon, may have surface water and organic chemicals, researchers say

Recent evidence suggests that Europa’s icy shell may have pockets of liquid water: “Because it’s closer to the surface, where you get interesting chemicals from space, other moons, and the volcanoes of Io, there’s a possibility that life has a shot if there are pockets of water in the shell,” says study author Dustin Schroeder, a geophysics expert at Stanford University in a statement. “If the mechanism we see in Greenland is how these things happen on Europa, it suggests there’s water everywhere.” Elizabeth Gamillo, “Europa’s Icy Shell May Be Habitable for Life” at Smithsonian Magazine (April 20, 2022) The paper is open access. NASA has noted the likely presence of organic chemicals as well: For Europa to be potentially Read More ›