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Is Pollution the Sign of Alien Life?

In the search for life beyond Earth, astronomers should look for signs of pollution in the atmospheres of alien planets outside the Earth's solar system, a new study says. The next-generation James Webb Space Telescope, which is set to launch in 2018, could hunt for worlds harboring alien life by sniffing their atmospheres for chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), greenhouse gases that destroy ozone in the Earth's atmosphere. These chemicals could be detected on planets with atmospheres that are 10 times thicker than Earth's, the researchers said. Scientists already scan the atmospheres of alien worlds for traces of oxygen and methane, gases that typically coexist in the presence of life. But searching for signs of pollution elsewhere in the universe could yield clues about more-advanced alien civilizations, the researchers said. Of course, to very advanced civilizations, Earth's own greenhouse gases might signal a primitive world, the scientists said. via Live Science.

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