Alien Plants May Bloom Black on Worlds With Two or More Stars
Posted on April 20, 2011
Jack O'Malley-James of the University of St Andrews says plants on an Earth-like planet with or two or three suns would appear black or grey. O'Malley-James said simulations developed by his team suggest plants on planets with multiple dim red dwarf suns may appear black as they attempt to absorb light "across the entire visible wavelength range."
O'Malley-James also says plants on planets orbiting more powerful stars may develop sunscreen to protect themselves from harmful radiation.
O'Malley-James said, "Our simulations suggest that planets in multi-star systems may host exotic forms of the more familiar plants we see on Earth. Plants with dim red dwarf suns for example, may appear black to our eyes, absorbing across the entire visible wavelength range in order to use as much of the available light as possible. They may also be able to use infrared or ultraviolet radiation to drive photosynthesis. For planets orbiting two stars like our own, harmful radiation from intense stellar flares could lead to plants that develop their own UV-blocking sun-screens, or photosynthesising microorganisms that can move in response to a sudden flare."
The National Geographic also has a report on what alien plant life might be like. The article says astrobiologist Jane Greaves of the University of St. Andrews says alien plants might even move or "shrink under a rock" to avoid radiation from solar flares.