Published: 7:59 AM 6/18/2014
Submitted by Raoul Girard
Researchers have started their quest to discover extraterrestrial life on other planets. They believe that methane is a big indicator of potential life in other worlds.
A powerful model has been developed by researchers to detect life that may exist outside of our solar system. The accuracy of this model is better than ever before.
"We anticipate that our model will have a big impact on the future study of planets and 'cool' stars external to our solar system, potentially helping scientists identify signs of extraterrestrial life", said Jonathan Tennyson, professor from department of physics and astronomy at University College London (UCL).
A spectrum for hot methane has been developed by researchers from the UCL and University of New South Wales. It is intended for detecting the molecule at temperatures up to 1,220 degrees Celsius.
With the help of some of the most advanced supercomputers, researchers calculated approximately 10 billion spectroscopic lines. Each line has a distinct color at which methane can absorb light.
Compared to previous study, the list of lines is 2,000 times bigger.
The incredible power of modern supercomputers has played a very big role in creating the comprehensive spectrum, said Sergei Yurchenko, from the UCL. The researchers have successfully tested and verified the model.
Astronomers can figure out how the atmospheres of exoplanets absorb starlight. By comparing it to a spectrum, they can identify the molecules that have made the alien worlds.