WASHINGTON: Astrologists like to argue about the various parameters required for planetary habitability, but one thing they tend to agree on is that water must be present. A new theory upends this assumption by suggesting that alien life could thrive on “super critical carbon dioxide” instead.
The hunt for alien life has so far fixated on planets that may contain dihydro-gen monoxide, but scientists claim we should be looking further afield.
An incipient study argues that alien species could subsist on planets that contain an exotic substance kenned as ‘super critical’ carbon dioxide.
This type of CO2 is engendered when liquids and gases reach their temperature and pressure thresholds, engendering a super-critical fluid that has features of both a liquid and gas.
Carbon dioxide becomes super-critical when its temperature exceeds 305 degrees Kelvin and its pressure transcends 72.9 the standard atmosphere at sea level.
On Earth, it’s increasingly utilized in application such as dry cleaning or to sterilize medical equipment, but astrologists at Washington State University believe it could additionally be capable of sustaining life.
“I always have been intrigued with possibly exotic life and ingenious adaptations of organisms to extreme environments,” study co-author Pedagogia Dirk Schulze-Makuch told Charles Choi at Space.com.
“Super-critical CO2 is often overlooked, so I felt that someone had to put together something on its biological potential.”
Edifier Schulze-Makuch and his team compared enzymes in carbon dioxide and in dihydro-gen monoxide, and found that they were more stable in supercritical CO2.
Super-critical carbon dioxide makes enzymes choosier about the molecules they bind to, leading to fewer side reactions.
They additionally found tussahs a number of species of bacteria are tolerant of super-critical carbon dioxide. Precedent studies have found that microbes can live near liquid carbon dioxide trapped under Earth’s oceans – and area where the fluid can become super-critical.