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Is the presence of oxygen on an exoplanet a reliable biosignature?(Report)

Leger, A. ; Fontecave, M. ; Labeyrie, A. ; Samuel, B. ; Demangeon, O. ; Valencia, D.

Astrobiology, May, 2011, Vol.11(4), p.335(7) [Periódico revisado por pares]

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  • Título:
    Is the presence of oxygen on an exoplanet a reliable biosignature?(Report)
  • Autor: Leger, A. ; Fontecave, M. ; Labeyrie, A. ; Samuel, B. ; Demangeon, O. ; Valencia, D.
  • Assuntos: Oxygen -- Physiological Aspects ; Oxygen -- Research ; Photosynthesis -- Research ; Planets -- Observations
  • É parte de: Astrobiology, May, 2011, Vol.11(4), p.335(7)
  • Descrição: We revisit the validity of the presence of [O.sub.2] or [O.sub.3] in the atmosphere of a rocky planet as being a biosignature. Up to now, the false positive that has been identified applies to a planet during a hot greenhouse runaway, which is restricted to planets outside the habitable zone (HZ) of the star that are closer to the star. In this paper, we explore a new possibility based on abiotic photogeneration of [O.sub.2] at the surface of a planet that could occur inside the HZ. The search for such a process is an active field of laboratory investigation that has resulted from an ongoing interest in finding efficient systems with the capacity to harvest solar energy on Earth. Although such a process is energetically viable, we find it to be a very unlikely explanation for the observation of [O.sub.2] or [O.sub.3] in the atmosphere of a telluric exoplanet in the HZ. It requires an efficient photocatalyst to be present and abundant under natural planetary conditions, which appears unlikely according to our discussion of known mineral photochemical processes. In contrast, a biological system that synthesizes its constituents from abundant raw materials and energy has the inherent adaptation advantage to become widespread and dominant (Darwinist argument). Thus, [O.sub.2] appears to continue to be a good biosignature. Key Words: Biosignature--Oxygen-- Ozone--Photosynthesis--Artificial photosynthesis--Photocatalysis. Astrobiology 11, 335-341.
  • Idioma: English

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