Purple Bacteria Emerge as Potential Candidates for Extraterrestrial Life on Exoplanets

Purple bacteria could be prime candidates for extraterrestrial life on Earth-like exoplanets orbiting red dwarf stars, a pioneering study suggests, expanding the search for alien life beyond green organisms.

author-image
Trim Correspondents
Updated On
New Update
Purple Bacteria Emerge as Potential Candidates for Extraterrestrial Life on Exoplanets

Purple Bacteria Emerge as Potential Candidates for Extraterrestrial Life on Exoplanets

A pioneering study led by researchers from Cornell University suggests that purple bacteria could be primary contenders for extraterrestrial life on Earth-like exoplanets orbiting red dwarf stars. These resilient and adaptable microbes have the potential to thrive under the radiance of a red sun, where they may be detectable by future telescopes like the Habitable Worlds Observatory and the Extremely Large Telescope.

The study highlights the remarkable evolutionary adaptability of purple bacteria and the possibility that their presence could serve as a discernible signature for the detection of alien life forms. "Purple bacteria have unique light signatures that could be identified in the reflected light of distant planets," the researchers noted. This discovery signifies a paradigm shift in the search for extraterrestrial life, advocating for a diversified approach beyond Earth's conventional green organisms.

Red dwarf stars, the most abundant in our galaxy, emit lower-energy infrared and red light, which purple bacteria are better suited to use for photosynthesis compared to green microbes. The researchers suggest that early Earth may have been dominated by purple bacteria before the rise of green, oxygen-emitting plants. This finding emphasizes the importance of looking for signs of purple life in addition to green life when searching for extraterrestrial life on exoplanets.

Why this matters: The discovery of purple bacteria as potential candidates for extraterrestrial life could significantly impact the search for life beyond Earth. This study expands the scope of astrobiological research and may lead to new strategies for detecting biosignatures on distant exoplanets.

The study underscores the need for a comprehensive database to identify signs of life, as the detection of purple bacteria on other planets would mark a significant milestone in the quest for extraterrestrial life. Astrobiologist Adam Frank has also suggested that alien life, including animals, could exist on Jupiter's moon Europa and Saturn's moon Enceladus, living in their 'dark watery depths'. As future telescopes like the Extremely Large Telescope and the Habitable Worlds Observatory come online, scientists are optimistic about the prospects of detecting these vivid, identifiable signatures of purple bacteria on distant worlds.

Key Takeaways

  • Purple bacteria may be candidates for extraterrestrial life on exoplanets.
  • Purple bacteria can thrive under red dwarf star radiation, detectable by future telescopes.
  • Early Earth may have been dominated by purple bacteria before green plants.
  • Detecting purple bacteria on exoplanets could be a milestone in the search for alien life.
  • Future telescopes may identify signatures of purple bacteria on distant worlds.