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View Full Version : What's the next step if spectroscopy revealed high levels of oxygen from a exoplanet?



MVAgusta1078RR
2014-Mar-25, 11:46 AM
Have SETI point their radio telescopes at it and that's it? Would Congress react at all or other agencies like ESA? Is there any kind of plan if this happens or we'll just have our radio telescopes pointed at it for the next few hundred years and that's it?

Spacedude
2014-Mar-25, 01:44 PM
Oxygen is a good start but it's just one ingredient in the cake mix. Combine it with CO2, Methane, water vapor, etc.and bake at a goldilocks temp orbiting an oven (star) of sufficient age and stability and bada-boom Houston we have a decent candidate. But no radio signals required for pursuing further inspection, the same goes for our Earth's "signals" if others are looking back in this direction.

ravens_cry
2014-Mar-25, 02:20 PM
If we find all that, start building some really big telescopes.

Noclevername
2014-Mar-25, 04:07 PM
Have SETI point their radio telescopes at it and that's it? Would Congress react at all or other agencies like ESA? Is there any kind of plan if this happens or we'll just have our radio telescopes pointed at it for the next few hundred years and that's it?

Other than examining it, what do you think we could do?

mkline55
2014-Mar-25, 04:12 PM
I think the next step would be a lot of media hype, a few books, some new shows on scyfi, etc. Lots of potential for the graphics people.

Certassar
2014-Mar-25, 05:06 PM
I, for one, welcome our new oxygen breathing overlords.

Barabino
2014-Mar-25, 05:23 PM
I think I couldn't stand the hype... :doh:

John Mendenhall
2014-Mar-25, 05:44 PM
Have SETI point their radio telescopes at it and that's it? Would Congress react at all or other agencies like ESA? Is there any kind of plan if this happens or we'll just have our radio telescopes pointed at it for the next few hundred years and that's it?

Check for high levels of CO2?

swampyankee
2014-Mar-25, 07:38 PM
Have SETI point their radio telescopes at it and that's it? Would Congress react at all or other agencies like ESA? Is there any kind of plan if this happens or we'll just have our radio telescopes pointed at it for the next few hundred years and that's it?

We can't do much else, at least without some major technological breakthroughs. Some way of cheating relativity would help, too.

MVAgusta1078RR
2014-Mar-26, 05:32 AM
My understanding is that only life, like algae or plants can produce high levels of oxygen on a planet and that really would be the sole candidate. Oxygen can't be made in high concentration otherwise on a planet from what I heard about finding the composition of planets using spectroscopy.
I think the most frustrating scenario that could happen in the search for life or actually intelligent life is if we did find a sign and then some radio signals and found out that they were about as advanced as us and didn't have interstellar travel. The only thing we could do is send signals back and forth every 20 or 50 years if they were some what close, like 20-50 light years.

Noclevername
2014-Mar-26, 08:25 AM
My understanding is that only life, like algae or plants can produce high levels of oxygen on a planet and that really would be the sole candidate. Oxygen can't be made in high concentration otherwise on a planet from what I heard about finding the composition of planets using spectroscopy.



Stellar photo-dissociation of water on a planet with little to no tectonic activity; the hydrogen atoms could get carried off by photon pressure and the oxygen would have a limited supply of surface matter to bind to. It's basically a wet-greenhouse version of what happens to Europa's surface ice.

Romanus
2014-Mar-26, 05:22 PM
Agree with Spacedude: Not only is oxygen just one of the things spectroscopists would look at, but I'd expect fierce debate over whether the oxygen is biogenic or not. The concentration would probably also be extremely difficult to determine, and inconclusive at that; for instance, Earth's atmosphere had an amount of oxygen in it a billion years ago that might have been spectroscopically detectable, but it was at a level far too low to sustain most modern metazoans.

ravens_cry
2014-Mar-27, 05:24 AM
Agree with Spacedude: Not only is oxygen just one of the things spectroscopists would look at, but I'd expect fierce debate over whether the oxygen is biogenic or not. The concentration would probably also be extremely difficult to determine, and inconclusive at that; for instance, Earth's atmosphere had an amount of oxygen in it a billion years ago that might have been spectroscopically detectable, but it was at a level far too low to sustain most modern metazoans.
Which is why I suggested building really big telescopes.Finding markers, including oxygen, of life on an alien world is but the first step.
It'd probably have to be built in orbit so it doesn't collapse under its own weight.

Githyanki
2014-Apr-05, 09:23 PM
Since most of the exo-planets discovered are gas-giants, the O2 probably is from a different source than life.

If I recall, Earth was O2 rich when its O2-levels were between 5% and 10% about 2 billion YA. So if you find a world, that has earth-like size and orbit, then you have a good chance of discovering alien bacteria.

eburacum45
2014-Apr-11, 10:48 PM
Abiotic free oxygen could be commonplace on ocean planets with oceans deeper than a few hundred kilometers. Such planets would be slightly less dense than an equivalent rocky world, so a careful measurement of the density might eliminate such worlds.