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James Webb telescope to investigate strongest sign of alien life

Researchers have identified a chemical in the atmosphere of planet K2-18b, a substance believed to be linked exclusively to biological processes. This revelation has propelled K2-18b, located 124 light years away in the constellation of Leo, to the forefront of exoplanetary research.

K2-18b, a planet with a radius approximately 2.6 times that of Earth, orbits a red dwarf star within the region commonly referred to as the habitable zone. This zone is the range of orbits around a star within which a planetary surface can support liquid water given sufficient atmospheric pressure.

The excitement among astronomers and astrobiologists peaked when traces of dimethyl sulphide were detected in the planet’s atmosphere back in 2015.

This compound, typically associated with biological activity, has never been observed on another planet until now. The discovery was so unexpected that Dr. Nikku Madhusudhan, the lead researcher, experienced a week of restless contemplation before sharing the findings with his team.

“It was a real shock, I had sleepless nights for a week,” said study leader Dr Nikku Madhusudhan.

“That week, I didn’t even muster the courage to break it to my own team.”

The presence of dimethyl sulphide raises the tantalizing possibility of an ocean brimming with life forms on K2-18b. However, the scientific community remains cautiously optimistic as further analysis is required to confirm these initial findings.

The James Webb Space Telescope will play a pivotal role in the ongoing investigation. Its advanced instruments are expected to provide a more detailed understanding of the planet’s atmosphere and potential biosignatures.

If confirmed, it would mark the first detection of life beyond our solar system, a milestone in the quest to understand our place in the universe. The research team, along with the global scientific community, awaits for the next phase of data that could potentially rewrite textbooks.

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An exclusive interview with Dr. Madhusudhan offers insight into the emotional journey of the discovery and the scientific significance of the findings.

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