- Biopigments are what gives plants, algae, bacteria, and human skin and eyes their colorful appearance. If biopigments were present as a sign of life on a planet, they would leave behind a detectable polarized signature in the reflected light.
- The researchers can detect this biosignature with the help of polarization filters, which function similarly to polarized sunglasses or 3D movie glasses. The signature in the polarized light of plants on distant planets would also be detectable in this way.
- “This technique could be instrumental in searching for life in Alpha Centauri, the planetary system closest to the Sun,” says Dr. Svetlana Berdyugina, who led the study. The astrophysicist points out that the star Alpha Centauri B is optimal for searches with current telescopes because it is one of the closest to the Earth.
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