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A new way of comparing the color and intensity changes of light reflected off of Earth's surface to the flickers from exoplanets may help reveal the presence of oceans, continents and – possibly – life on alien worlds.
Researchers came up with a color scheme for how our uniquely life-filled, ocean-soaked planet would appear to observers tens of light-years away.
By comparing the changes in observed hues of an alien planet as it rotates to this distinct Earthly color palette, "we can infer the surface composition of the [exo]planet," said Yuka Fujii, a doctoral student at the University of Tokyo and lead author of a paper published in the May 4 issue of the Astrophysical Journal.