Air, water, light, noise, radiation, etc. – the global presence and impact of humanity can be seen and felt through our pollution signatures across the globe, and even from space. Therefore, if intelligent extraterrestrials searched our planet for signs of life from a distance, they might not have to search too hard and close to sense our existence.
According to remote sensing experts, the prospect of detecting plant life on other planets is relatively simpler. This is because chlorophyll, essential for photosynthesis, appears very bright in the infrared, and its mere presence would give the earth a distinct red edge.
But to detect an “intelligent” civilization like ours, the indicators will have to differ.
Just as chlorophyll signifies the presence of plants, humanity’s existence will be associated with our own signature markers – artificial light at night, waste heat from homes and industries, and most notably, the chemicals emitted by anthropogenic sources that make up our atmosphere.
However, this very fact raises the question: could such artificial atmospheric constituents also reveal the existence of intelligent extraterrestrial species on distant planets?
According to a Universe Today report, a recent article available on a preprint server examined the possibility of using the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) to search for industrial pollutants in the atmospheres of exoplanets – planets outside our system. solar. Having already reached its designated position, the JWST is currently preparing its instruments and mirrors for operation.
The document focuses specifically on chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). Industrially produced on our planet as refrigerants and cleaning agents, CFCs gained notoriety in the 1980s when they created a huge hole in the Earth’s ozone layer. If that’s not a noticeable indicator of human presence, what is?
If one of humanity’s worst and most notable byproducts can make humans detectable, then the case could very well be similar to other intelligent life forms, the article says. Therefore, if these powerful and long-lasting greenhouse agents are found elsewhere in our galaxy, they could very well indicate the presence of a civilization capable of creeping industrialization.
But can the James Webb Space Telescope detect such CFCs on distant exoplanets? Yes, say the experts, but only if the conditions are ideal.
For example, this technique will not work if the planet being examined is orbiting around a star that is too bright (like our Sun), as this will drown out the signal. Instead, M-class stars, which are long-lived, dark red dwarfs, would be ideal candidates, especially those that are old and stable enough to support life.
Overall, and regardless of whether this technique works or not, the article highlights the groundbreaking capabilities of the James Webb Telescope in humanity’s pursuit of extraterrestrial life in this universe.
“With the launch of JWST, humanity could be very close to a milestone in SETI [the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence]one where we are able to detect from nearby stars not only strong, deliberate, transient, and highly directional transmissions like ours (like the Arecibo message), but consistent, passive technosignatures of the same strength as ours “, he concludes. .
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