ALIENS could be discovered within 25 years when more powerful telescopes are built


A government scientist said that we can find alien life outside of our solar system in 25 years, but current technology such as the James Webb Space Telescope is not quite powerful enough to locate evidence of extraterrestrial life.

Sasha Quanz, an astrophysicist at Switzerland’s federal technology institute ETH Zurich, made the comments at the recent opening of the university’s new Center for the Origin and Prevalence of Life. 

Although 5,000 exoplanets are known by scientists and there are billions yet to be discovered just within our Milky Way galaxy, we don’t know a lot about the atmospheres of these far-off places. 

‘In 1995, my colleague [and Noble Prize laureate] Didier Queloz discovered the first planet outside our solar system,’ Quanz said during the briefing, according to Space.com. 

The 25-year timeframe he set himself for finding life outside the solar system is ambitious but not ‘unrealistic,’ according to Quanz. 

A government scientist said that we can find alien life outside of our solar system in 25 years, but current technology such as the James Webb Space Telescope is not quite powerful enough to locate evidence of extraterrestrial life

Billions of exoplanets have yet to be discovered by scientists. Each of the more than 100 billion stars just in our Milky Way has at least one planet orbiting it

Billions of exoplanets have yet to be discovered by scientists. Each of the more than 100 billion stars just in our Milky Way has at least one planet orbiting it

The James Webb telescope, which was not built expressly for viewing exoplanets but instead for seeing the universe’s oldest stars, recently released its first direct image of an exoplanet orbiting a distant star – the massive gas giant HIP 65426 b, a planet that’s 12 times the size of Jupiter. 

Quanz, however, explained that Webb, although the most powerful observatory ever put into space, is not quite powerful enough to be able to capture the much smaller, Earth-like planets that orbit close enough to their stars so that liquid water might exist.

‘[The HIP 65426] system is a very special system,’ Quanz said. ‘It’s a gas giant planet orbiting very far from the star. 

‘This is what Webb can do in terms of taking pictures of planets. We will not be able to get to the small planets. Webb is not powerful enough to do that.’ 

Quanz and his team are leading the development of the mid-infrared ELT imager and spectrograph (METIS), a unique, first of its kind instrument that will be part of the Extremely Large Telescope (ELT)

Quanz and his team are leading the development of the mid-infrared ELT imager and spectrograph (METIS), a unique, first of its kind instrument that will be part of the Extremely Large Telescope (ELT)

'What we do not know is if these terrestrial planets have atmospheres and what these atmospheres are made of,' Quanz said, adding that many of these exoplanets could be capable of supporting life just like Earth

‘What we do not know is if these terrestrial planets have atmospheres and what these atmospheres are made of,’ Quanz said, adding that many of these exoplanets could be capable of supporting life just like Earth

However, there is reason for hope as new instruments are already being built with the sole purpose of filling this gap in the James Webb’s capabilities. 

Quanz and his team are leading the development of the mid-infrared ELT imager and spectrograph (METIS), a unique, first of its kind instrument that will be part of the Extremely Large Telescope (ELT). 

The ground-based instrument is being being built by the European Southern Observatory in Chile, ELT, and once completed toward the end of this decade, will feature a 130-foot-wide mirror – making it the biggest optical telescope in the world.

‘The primary goal of the instrument is to take the first picture of a terrestrial planet, potentially similar to Earth, around one of the very nearest stars,’ the astrophysicist said. ‘But our long-term vision is to do that not only for a few stars but for dozens of stars, and to investigate the atmospheres of dozens of terrestrial exoplanets.’ 

‘What we do not know is if these terrestrial planets have atmospheres and what these atmospheres are made of,’ Quanz said, adding that many of these exoplanets could be capable of supporting life just like Earth. 

‘We need to investigate the atmospheres of these planets. We need an observational approach that would allow us to take pictures of these planets.’ 

‘We need to gain deeper understanding about the plausible building blocks of life, the pathways and the timescales of chemical reactions and the external conditions to help us prioritize target stars and target planets,’ he added. 

‘We need to verify to what extent the traces of life are true bioindicators, because maybe there are other processes that could lead to the creation of the gasses in these atmospheres.’

Quanz explained that Webb (above), although the most powerful observatory ever put into space, is not quite powerful enough to be able to capture the much smaller, Earth-like planets that orbit close enough to their stars so that liquid water might exist

Quanz explained that Webb (above), although the most powerful observatory ever put into space, is not quite powerful enough to be able to capture the much smaller, Earth-like planets that orbit close enough to their stars so that liquid water might exist

The James Webb telescope recently released its first direct image of an exoplanet orbiting a distant star - the massive gas giant HIP 65426 b, a planet that's 12 times the size of Jupiter

The James Webb telescope recently released its first direct image of an exoplanet orbiting a distant star – the massive gas giant HIP 65426 b, a planet that’s 12 times the size of Jupiter

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