CfA: Ultraviolet Light May Be Ultra Important in Search for Life

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CfA: Ultraviolet Light May Be Ultra Important in Search for Life

Post by bystander » Thu Aug 31, 2017 6:54 pm

Ultraviolet Light May Be Ultra Important in Search for Life
Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics | 2017 Aug 31

In everyday life, ultraviolet, or UV, light earns a bad reputation for being responsible for sunburns and other harmful effects on humans. However, research suggests that UV light may have played a critical role in the emergence of life on Earth and could be a key for where to look for life elsewhere in the Universe.

A new study by Sukrit Ranjan of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) in Cambridge, Mass., and colleagues suggests that red dwarf stars might not emit enough UV light to kick-start the biological processes most familiar to our planet. For example, certain levels of UV might be necessary for the formation of ribonucleic acid, a molecule necessary for all forms of known life. ...

This research is focused on the study of red dwarf stars, which are smaller and less massive than the Sun, and the planets that orbit them. Recently, several planetary systems with potential habitable zones, where liquid water could exist, have been discovered around red dwarfs including Proxima Centauri, TRAPPIST-1, and LHS 1140. ...

The Surface UV Environment on Planets Orbiting M Dwarfs: Implications for Prebiotic Chemistry
and the Need for Experimental Follow-up
- Sukrit Ranjan, Robin D. Wordsworth, Dimitar D. Sasselov
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