The Politecnico laser looking for life on other planets

The benzene searching tool

The aim of this research is to detect benzene (a monocyclic aromatic hydrocarbon produced by combustion processes) in the atmosphere of the analyzed planets. Research has made important progress thanks to the work of a team from the Politecnico di Milano Cosmos Lab, in collaboration with KAUST University (King Abdullah University for Science and Technology) in Saudi Arabia and the Department of Chemistry of Bologna University.

AskNews interview with Marco Marangoni, professor of Physics at the Politecnico di Milano.

Benzene has always been considered an important source of carbon in the universe and it could create an atmosphere potentially suited to the development of life. At the moment, no direct relation between the presence of benzene and life on a planet has been found, but this tool allows us to easily find new exoplanets (planets that do not belong to our solar system and therefore orbit around a different star from the Sun).

Lo strumento utilizzato in questa ricerca è formato da due parti fondamentali: un laser che emette raggi tra i 12 e i 15 micron, nella quale il benzene e altri idrocarburi hanno il loro spettro d’assorbimento più intenso, e un pettine di frequenza, per analizzare i risultati forniti.

This innovative Italian discovery has been published on the prestigious magazine, Communication Physics (part of the Nature group and one the most authoritative scientific research publications).