Are we alone? This question is nearly as old as humanity itself. Today, this question in astronomy focuses on finding life beyond our planet. Are we, as a species, and as a planet, alone? Or is there life somewhere else?
Usually the question inspires visions of weird, green versions of humans. However, life is more than just us: animals, fish, plants and even bacteria are all the kinds of things we seek signs of in space.
One thing about life on Earth is that it leaves traces in the chemical makeup of the atmosphere. So traces like that, which are visible from a long way away, are something we look for when we're hunting aliens.
Scientists in the United Kingdom and the United States have just reported some very interesting chemical traces in the atmosphere of a planet called K2-18b, which is about 124 light-years from Earth. In particular, they may have detected a substance which on Earth is only produced by living things.
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