Scientists have found a clue that may solve the mystery of alien life on distant planets
When searching for signs of life on distant planets, scientists should pay attention not only to biological but also to technological markers. The presence of a large amount of oxygen may indicate that the planet is not only habitable but also has the conditions for creating advanced planetary technologies.
This is stated in a study published in the journal Nature Astronomy. The authors of the study outlined in their work the connection between atmospheric oxygen and the potential development of technologies.
Amedeo Balbi, associate professor of astronomy and astrophysics at the University of Rome Tor Vergata, said the study showed that the requirements for the planet's atmosphere "can be quite severe."
The researchers note that oxygen is important for the respiration and metabolism of multicellular organisms, but it is also crucial for the emergence of fire, which ultimately becomes the basis for the technological development of civilization.
They drew parallels with Earth, where technological development required easy access to open-air combustion. This eventually made it possible to cook food, and later to start creating metal tools. Later on, the same fire allowed us to create materials for building houses, as well as to generate energy by burning fuel. So we can say that combustion, which occurs thanks to oxygen in the atmosphere, is perhaps the main prerequisite for the development of mankind.
Their study of the conditions on Earth revealed that the controlled use of fire and further metallurgical progress became possible when the level of oxygen in the atmosphere reached 18%.
Therefore, any planet with similar oxygen levels can automatically be considered suitable for technological development. That's why scientists are calling for such planets to look for technosignatures that would indicate advanced technologies.
At the same time, the researchers found that with lower oxygen levels, there is still a possibility of complex, intelligent alien life, but it will not be a race capable of technological development.
"In a world without oxygen, you might get biology - you might even get intelligent beings - but without a ready source of fire, you can never develop higher technology because higher technology requires fuel and fusion," said Adam Frank, another author of the study, a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Rochester.
The authors called for making the search for planets with a high oxygen content a priority as such exoplanets could be a potential home for a technologically advanced species.
"The implications of discovering intelligent, technological life on another planet would be enormous," Balbi added.
He also warned scientists against believing in those exoplanets that have detected techno-signatures but also very low oxygen levels.
"We have to be extremely careful in interpreting possible findings," he emphasized.
Earlier, OBOZ.UA reported that the first contact with aliens could end in genocide.