SETI & Technosignatures

The Oxygen Bottleneck For Technospheres

By Keith Cowing
Status Report
August 3, 2023
Filed under , , , ,
The Oxygen Bottleneck For Technospheres
Planets capable of supporting high O2 concentrations and, hence, technological civilizations. This figure shows the likely composition of planetary atmospheres based on mass and equilibrium temperature. For planets whose temperature and mass would lead to primarily CO2/N2/H2O atmospheres, high oxygen levels require a biological origin, i.e. photosynthesis. For higher equilibrium temperatures, high O2 levels can occur via the runaway greenhouse effect and the photolysis of water vapor at high altitudes. (Figure adapted from [7].) — astro-ph.EP

On Earth, the development of technology required easy access to open air combustion, which is only possible when oxygen partial pressure, P(O2), is above 18\%.

This suggests that only planets with significant atmospheric oxygen concentrations will be capable of developing “advanced” technospheres and hence detectable technosignatures.

Amedeo Balbi, Adam Frank

Comments: 10 pages, 2 figures
Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP); Atmospheric and Oceanic Physics (; Popular Physics (physics.pop-ph)
Cite as: arXiv:2308.01160 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:2308.01160v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Amedeo Balbi
[v1] Wed, 2 Aug 2023 14:06:04 UTC (331 KB)

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