Search for Life
"Human beings, as well as
every other organism on the earth, are based on liquid
water and organic molecules." (Carl Sagan)
The best wavelength region for locating extraterrestrial planets and the
possibility of life there is the mid-infrared. Evidence of the conditions
necessary for life can be
found in the atmospheres of planets by detecting the
existence of compounds such as water, carbon dioxide and ozone.
For example, in our solar system the Earth is the only planet that
has all three of these compounds in its infrared spectra.
ISO spectra of S106, Cirrus, NGC7027 and the Antennae
with detection at 158 microns of CII.
Carbon chemistry is the basis of life as we know it, and has its beginnings
in the interstellar medium. Infrared spectral studies have shown that
carbon as well as
complex organic molecules are abundant in many regions of
The fact that these molecules are so abundant shows us that a very
rich organic chemistry exists in the Universe.
Results from infrared spectroscopy have shown that
water is abundant in many regions of space. Water has been detected
on many of the planets in our solar system and this water was likely present
in the molecular cloud from which our solar system formed. Water is
essential to life as we know it and has been detected in several areas
where stars and possibly planets are forming.
Infrared Spectroscopy Index |
What is Spectroscopy? |
Infrared Spectroscopy |
Solar System |
Interstellar Space |
Star Forming Regions |
Older Stars |
Search For Life |
Our Galaxy |
Other Galaxies |