Tuesday, April 08, 2008

The Color of Alien Plants

The current issue of Scientific American takes a look at what plants on other worlds might look like. Of course talking about the actual shape of alien plants - or what we might characterize as "plants" - would be purely speculative. However, we can speculate as to the likely color of photosynthetic life on planets circling non-Sol-like stars, based on what we know about plants on Earth.
Light of any color from deep violet through the near-infrared could power photosynthesis. Around stars hotter and bluer than our sun, plants would tend to absorb blue light and could look green to yellow to red. Around cooler stars such as red dwarfs, planets receive less visible light, so plants might try to absorb as much of it as possible, making them look black.
In addition to the article, which is based in solid science, there is a slide show of an artist's fantasy of what those alien plants might look like.

There are also some related informational in that issue:
Of course the article doesn't really address the issue of whether a lifeform with photosynthetic pigments is necessarily a "plant". I don't think we should make any such assumptions.

Image: From the Scientific American"The Color of Plants on Other Worlds" slide show
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1 comment:

arvind mishra said...

Scientific American[India],April O8 is just received.Yes,the article recommended by you is there but have so far read the editorial only which mentions a little bit of sf in connection to the articles in question.