Scientists optimistic about finding life on Hycean planets

Well, this is interesting. It also helps to clarify for me what “finding life” might look like – I always wondered how it would even be possible from so far away, but apparently they are looking for “biosignatures” that are detectable with the right kind of equipment. For most of my life I assumed extraterrestrial life was a myth, so the idea that they could be close still feels mystifying and strange to me.

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They need to look for the right kind of equipment first. Unlike the life that’s there, it isn’t. We need an OWL for a start. That would let us spectroscopically analyse just about all planets for 50 ly including those of the 64 spectral type G stars like Sol. Oxygen isn’t considered a biosignature any more, so what is? If they’re warm and wet, that’ll have to do. 100 ly gives us 8 x the volume; 512 G types.

New class of habitable exoplanets are 'a big step forward' in the search for life | University of Cambridge is the Cambridge news release, with improved accuracy and less intrusive advertising then CBS; it also has links to the original paper.

“Might be habitable” is getting a lot of focus from astronomy currently, but it often seems overly optimistic on going from “might be” to “is”. Such planets would have liquid water, which is key for life, but would they have enough long-term stability? Do they have an adequate variety of other elements accessible without the earth-like rocky component? Would they have a plate-tectonic-equivalent process to recycle buried nutrients and keep a system going?

Worth looking at, but also interesting to investigate simply as a type of exoplanet - putting all the focus on life misses the fact that rocks and plasma and fluids can be interesting, too.

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Nothing beats finding life, but as oxygen is no longer a bio signature, how can we?

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