Scientists 'extremely excited' as Nasa discovers 'tentative evidence' of sign of life on faraway planet

12 September 2023, 20:04 | Updated: 13 September 2023, 21:47

Scientists are "extremely excited" by the "tentative" discovery
Scientists are "extremely excited" by the "tentative" discovery. Picture: LBC/Nasa
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

A Nasa telescope may have discovered potential evidence of a sign of life on a faraway planet.

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Nasa's James Webb Space Telescope may have discovered a molecule known as dimethyl sulphide (DMS), which, on Earth, is produced only by life.

According to those involved in the research, the evidence at this stage is "not robust".

The planet where the evidence may be present is 120 light years away, with methane and CO2 also detected in the planet's atmosphere, researchers said.

The planet, known as K2-18b, was discovered by scientists in 2015. The "tentative" discovery means it may be home to a water ocean.

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Dr Jeni Millard, an extragalactic astronomer, told LBC's Andrew Marr it may be the closest humans have come to discovering life on another planet.

K2-18b is thought to have the right environment where life could be found due to the presence of CO2 and methane, and the lack of ammonia, she said.

"We have to consider places that are not like earth because these Hycean planets are a lot easier to study than earth planets," she told LBC.

K2-18b. Picture: Nasa

"We're not talking people, you know, roaming around - or swimming around I guess - but more like bacteria, microbes."

A hycean planet is known as a hot, water-covered planet with a hydrogen atmosphere.

They are promising candidates for planetary habitability due to the presence of extraterrestrial liquid water.