Could life exist in the atmosphere of a sub-Neptune planet? | Aliens are Real

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Could life exist in the atmosphere of a sub-Neptune planet?
Artist impression of the Galileo probe descending into Jupiter’s atmosphere. Credit: NASA/Ken Hodges

Earth is perfectly suited for organic life. It stands to reason then that similar worlds orbiting distant stars might also be rich with life. But proving it will be a challenge. One of the better ways to discover extraterrestrial life will be to study the atmospheres of inhabited exoplanets, but Earth is fairly small for a planet and has a thin atmosphere compared to larger worlds. It will be much easier to study the atmospheres of gas planets, but could such worlds harbor life? A new paper in Universe argues it could.


Exobiologists have long argued that we shouldn’t assume all life in the universe will be on planets similar to Earth. The subsurface oceans of Enceladus and Ganymede could support terrestrial life and Titan has a rich methane chemistry that might support exotic life. But most ideas about life require three main ingredients: energy, water and a surface.

The first two are pretty obvious. Life needs some kind of energy source to survive, whether it be solar or geothermal, and water is the perfect solution to allow complex molecules to interact. But the requirement of a surface is more subtle. It isn’t needed for life to survive, since lots of organisms can spend their entire life in water or air. Instead, it seems to be necessary for life to arise. Surface chemistry is incredibly good at creating large organic molecules, even in space. It likely takes a rocky surface to create the building blocks of life.

This new paper argues that while surface chemistry might be needed for life to arise in a planetary system, it isn’t needed for life to thrive. The work focuses on warm sub-Neptune worlds. These planets are about eight to 10 times more massive than Earth and are likely small gas planets with a thick atmosphere but no terrestrial surface. Several of these worlds have been found in the potentially habitable zone of their star, such as K2-18b, which closely orbits a red dwarf star.

Could life exist in the atmosphere of a sub-Neptune planet?
Asteroids might seed sub-Neptunes with life. Credit: ESO

The team shows that warm sub-Neptunes such as K2-18b likely have plenty of water and organic molecules needed to create a habitable zone within their atmosphere. And being smaller gas worlds, it is likely that the habitable layer is fairly stable, allowing for any life to remain aloft long enough to reproduce before sinking to the hostile depths below. Similar arguments have been made for the potentially habitable layer of Venus’s atmosphere. But unlike Venus, K2-18b isn’t likely to have a surface. So even though life might survive on a sub-Neptune world, how would it get there?

Here, the team argues that asteroids might come to the rescue. If an exoplanetary system has an unstable asteroid belt, meteorite impacts with the sub-Neptune planet and smaller terrestrial worlds would both be common. This cross-pollination could bring life to a gassy world.

Because sub-Neptunes are fairly common and have thick atmospheres, they will be among the first planets we study for signs of life. While the odds of finding life on these worlds might be a bit long, it’s worth taking a look just because we can.


Researcher uses geology to help astronomers find habitable planets


More information:
Sara Seager et al, Possibilities for an Aerial Biosphere in Temperate Sub Neptune-Sized Exoplanet Atmospheres, Universe (2021). DOI: 10.3390/universe7060172

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What is Unidentified flying object (UFO)
A unidentified flying article (UFO) is any flying marvel that can’t promptly be distinguished or clarified. Most UFOs are recognized or explored as regular items or wonders. The term is generally utilized for guaranteed perceptions of extraterrestrial shuttle airplane, and was authored as an an-acronym by Project Blue Book project head Edward J. Ruppelt. Numerous UFOs are portrayed as being flying saucers, as is displayed in the picture to one side.

Studies and examinations have been directed by different governments around the world, alongside private people and associations. In the United States, considers started in the last part of the 1940s and have included Project Grudge, Project Sign and Project Blue Book. The last was finished in 1969-70 after the Condon Committee formally reasoned that the subject neglected to justify further examination. In any case, an unpublicized study named the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program was subsidized by the U.S. government from 2007-2012, and a replacement program named the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force is at present operational.

Unidentified lights and flying items have been accounted for in the skies for quite a bit of mankind’s set of experiences. Doubters including different researchers, and associations like the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, express that the whole subject can be clarified as ordinary items or wonders, while Ufologists recommend different problematic hypotheses. Public surveying demonstrates an impressive bit of the U.S. populace feels that their administration is retaining data regarding the matter.

The subject of UFOs has been, and is right now, famous in overall culture in anecdotal motion pictures, TV and other media. UFO reports are additionally the subject of proceeding with discussion and news announcing.

Early history before the 20th century
Unexplained aeronautical perceptions have been accounted for since forever. Some were without a doubt galactic in nature. These may incorporate comets, brilliant meteors, at least one of the five planets that can be promptly seen with the unaided eye, planetary conjunctions, or environmental optical wonders, for example, parhelia and lenticular mists. A model is Halley’s Comet, which was recorded first by Chinese cosmologists in 240 BC and conceivably as ahead of schedule as 467 BC. Such sightings from the beginning of time frequently were treated as powerful signs, heavenly messengers, or other strict omens. Some momentum day UFO specialists have seen similitudes between some strict images in middle age canvases and UFO reports however the accepted and emblematic character of such pictures is recorded by craftsmanship students of history putting more regular strict translations on such pictures.

Julius Obsequens was a Roman author who is accepted to have lived in the fourth century AD. The solitary work related with his name is the Liber de prodigiis (Book of Prodigies), totally separated from an exemplification, or edited version, composed by Livy; De prodigiis was built as a record of the miracles and signs that happened in Rome somewhere in the range of 249 and 12 BCE. A part of Obsequens’ work that has propelled a lot of interest in certain circles is that references are made to things traveling through the sky. These have been deciphered as reports of UFOs, however may similarly also portray meteors, and, since Obsequens, most likely, writes in the fourth century, that is, approximately 400 years after the occasions he depicts, they scarcely qualify as observer accounts.

On April 14, 1561, occupants of Nuremberg portrayed the presence of a huge dark three-sided object. As per witnesses, there were additionally many circles, chambers and other odd-molded articles that moved inconsistently overhead.

The 1566 heavenly wonder over Basel was a progression of mass sightings of divine marvels above Basel, Switzerland. Heavenly marvels were said to have “battled” together as various red and torpedoes in the sky. In the fifteenth and sixteenth hundreds of years, numerous pamphlets composed of “wonders” and “sky displays”.

On January 25, 1878, the Denison Daily News printed an article in which John Martin, a neighborhood rancher, had detailed seeing a huge, dim, round object looking like an inflatable flying “at magnificent speed”. Martin, as indicated by the news account, said it gave off an impression of being about the size of a saucer from his viewpoint, one of the principal employments of “saucer” in relationship with a UFO.

In April 1897, a great many individuals detailed seeing “carriers” in different pieces of the United States. Many marked affirmations. Scores of individuals even detailed conversing with the pilots. Thomas Edison was asked his assessment, and said, “You can take it from me that it’s anything but an unadulterated phony.”

20th century and after
The three soonest known pilot UFO sightings, of 1,305 comparative sightings classified by NARCAP, occurred in 1916 and 1926. On January 31, 1916, a UK pilot close to Rochford announced a column of lights, taking after lit windows on a rail line carriage, that rose and vanished. In January 1926 a pilot revealed six “flying sewer vent covers” between Wichita, Kansas, and Colorado Springs, Colorado. In late September 1926 an airmail pilot over Nevada said he had been compelled to land by a gigantic, wingless, tube shaped item.

On August 5, 1926, while going in the Humboldt Mountains of Tibet’s Kokonor district, Russian pioneer Nicholas Roerich announced that individuals from his campaign saw “something significant and sparkly mirroring the sun, similar to an enormous oval moving at incredible speed. Intersection our camp the thing altered in its course from south to southwest. Also, we perceived how it vanished in the serious blue sky. We even had the opportunity to take our field glasses and saw particularly an oval structure with glossy surface, one side of which was splendid from the sun.” Another portrayal by Roerich was of a “sparkly body flying from north to south. Field glasses are within reach. It’s anything but a tremendous body. One side gleams in the sun. It is oval fit. Then, at that point it some way or another turns toward another path and vanishes in the southwest.”

In the Pacific and European venues during World War II, “foo contenders” (metallic circles, wads of light and different shapes that followed airplane) were accounted for and every so often captured by Allied and Axis pilots. Some proposed Allied clarifications at the time included St. Elmo’s shoot, the planet Venus, fantasies from oxygen hardship, or German unmistakable advantages.

In 1946, in excess of 2,000 reports were gathered, principally by the Swedish military, of unidentified ethereal articles over the Scandinavian countries, alongside disengaged reports from France, Portugal, Italy and Greece. The items were alluded to as “Russian hail” (and later as “phantom rockets”) since it was thought the strange articles were conceivably Russian trial of caught German V1 or V2 rockets. Albeit most were believed to be such regular wonders as meteors, more than 200 were followed on radar by the Swedish military and considered to be “genuine actual items”. In a 1948 highly confidential report, Swedish specialists informed the USAF Europe that some with respect to their agents accepted these specialty to be extraterrestrial in beginning.