Scientists: alien life forms can really glow

Fluorescence can be an important property of life that has developed under an active star, protecting it from dangerous radiation.

UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY) — A cheap special effect – a mysterious fluorescent glow coming from guests from other planets – can turn out to be a pretty realistic detail. Such luminescence can serve as protection against deadly ultraviolet radiation for the inhabitants of worlds that are under too turbulent stars.

About this Jack O’Malley-James and Lisa Kaltenegger (Lisa Kaltenegger) write in an article published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Bioluminescence is characteristic of many organisms and on our own Earth. The chemical reaction in their luminous cells can trigger ultraviolet photons, which as a result are reradiated in the longer wavelength part of the spectrum.

The authors of a new article mention that this process could lead to the appearance of the first corals, a union that produces algae and polyps that provide them with protection, including UV radiation – on young Earth it was a much more serious problem. A “side effect” of this is a bright, multi-color fluorescent glow.

Today, the ozone layer absorbs most of the dangerous UV rays high in the atmosphere, and minimal protection is required. However, scientists notice that somewhere in the expanses of space life could well have appeared under a less calm star – primarily under the widespread red dwarfs. Planets close to such luminaries should receive much more dangerous radiation, and organisms here need to adapt to these conditions.

Biofluorescence can serve as one of the devices, allowing you to neutralize UV ​​photons before they harm the cells. “This should also lead to an increase in the visibility of such biota in the visible part of the spectrum,” the scientists write.

The authors add that if such a life really exists somewhere, then a flash of UV radiation from a distant star can be reflected by a flash of visible radiation on the planet. Such changes in brightness are still outside the scope of existing telescopes.

However, the ELT already under construction in Chile , due to begin work in 2025, will allow such a search.


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