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At a brisk -350 degrees Fahrenheit (-180 Celsius), Titan is currently much too cold to host anything close to life as we know it, scientists say.
But a new study reports faint signs of a natural electric field in Titan's thick cloud cover that are similar to the energy radiated by lightning on Earth.
Lightning is thought to have sparked the chemical reactions that led to the origin of life on our planet.
"As of now, lightning activity has not been observed in Titan's atmosphere," said lead author Juan Antonio Morente of the University of Granada in Spain.
But, he said, the signals that have been detected "are an irrefutable proof for the existence of electric activity."
I think that, instead of spending money on studying deep space,we should spend it on studying our own galaxy and our own solar system.Who knows what else can be closer to us than we realize.
Do you know why we're so interested in cosmological research, or 'studying deep space', as you put it?
The analysis showed that surprisingly, during the formation of the solar system, when dust and rubble in a disk around the sun collided and stuck together to form ever-larger rocks and eventually the planets we know today, even objects much smaller than planets — just 160 kilometers across or so — were large enough to melt almost completely.
This total melting of the planet-forming chunks of rock, called planetesimals, caused their constituents to separate out, with lighter materials including silicates floating to the surface and eventually forming a crust, while heavier iron-rich material sank down to the core, where it began swirling around to produce a magnetic dynamo. The researchers were able to study traces of the magnetic fields produced by that dynamo, now recorded in the meteorites that fell to Earth.
"The magnetism in meteorites has been a longstanding mystery," Weiss said, and the realization that such small bodies could have melted and formed magnetic dynamos is a major step toward solving that riddle.