The recent research from two institutions has found that the radiation from rocky cores could break up water molecule and support the microbe that consumes hydrogen. This finding shows how radioactive decay may also support extraterrestrial life.
In order to address the relationship between radiation and extraterrestrial life, the joint research between the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) and Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) was conducted. The team of the scientists from the two institutions created a radioactive decay model called radiolysis. This radiolysis model simulated the natural water-cracking process and applied the model in some worlds with suspected interior oceans.
Some of the worlds in which the radiolysis model was applied are Saturn's moon Enceladus, Jupiter's moon Europa, Pluto and its moon Charon, along with the dwarf planet Ceres. The lead author for the research is the researcher from the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Texas at San Antonio, Alexis Bouquet. The research has been published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters. in May edition.
Bouquet was working on the radiolysis model with his three colleagues, Christopher R. Glein, J. Hunter Waite and the principal scientist at the Southwest Research Institute, Danielle Wyrick. The radiolysis model is physical and chemical processes that release the molecular hydrogen (H2) when ocean water ionized the radioactive isotopes of elements such as uranium, potassium, and thorium. Those radioactive isotopes are known as chondrites and situated on the bottom of the ocean.
"We know that these radioactive elements exist within icy bodies, but this is the first systematic look at the solar system to estimate radiolysis," Wyrick said regarding the radiolysis model. "The results suggest that there are many potential targets for exploration out there, and that's exciting."
Radiolysis model explains the ionization of water to decompose itself that will create a hydrogen atom which is essential as food for the microbe. Watch the explanation of radiolysis of water below: