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The search for signs of life on exoplanets at the interface of chemistry and planetary science.

Seager S, Bains W - Sci Adv (2015)

Bottom Line: The discovery of thousands of exoplanets in the last two decades that are so different from planets in our own solar system challenges many areas of traditional planetary science.However, ideas for how to detect signs of life in this mélange of planetary possibilities have lagged, and only in the last few years has modeling how signs of life might appear on genuinely alien worlds begun in earnest.Recent results have shown that the exciting frontier for biosignature gas ideas is not in the study of biology itself, which is inevitably rooted in Earth's geochemical and evolutionary specifics, but in the interface of chemistry and planetary physics.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA. ; Department of Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.

ABSTRACT
The discovery of thousands of exoplanets in the last two decades that are so different from planets in our own solar system challenges many areas of traditional planetary science. However, ideas for how to detect signs of life in this mélange of planetary possibilities have lagged, and only in the last few years has modeling how signs of life might appear on genuinely alien worlds begun in earnest. Recent results have shown that the exciting frontier for biosignature gas ideas is not in the study of biology itself, which is inevitably rooted in Earth's geochemical and evolutionary specifics, but in the interface of chemistry and planetary physics.

No MeSH data available.


Exoplanet discovery space as of 2014.Color coded according to the planet discovery technique. (Left) Plotted as mass versus orbital period and not including Kepler discoveries. (Right) Plotted as radius versus orbital period (and using a simplified mass-radius relationship to transform planet mass to radius) and shows just how many exoplanets have been discovered, most by the Kepler space telescope. The paucity of planets of Earth’s size or mass and orbit emphasizes the challenge of exoEarth discovery with any planet-discovery technique. Figure from (10).
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Figure 1: Exoplanet discovery space as of 2014.Color coded according to the planet discovery technique. (Left) Plotted as mass versus orbital period and not including Kepler discoveries. (Right) Plotted as radius versus orbital period (and using a simplified mass-radius relationship to transform planet mass to radius) and shows just how many exoplanets have been discovered, most by the Kepler space telescope. The paucity of planets of Earth’s size or mass and orbit emphasizes the challenge of exoEarth discovery with any planet-discovery technique. Figure from (10).

Mentions: Our Milky Way Galaxy is teeming with exoplanets—statistically speaking at least one for each of the hundreds of billions of stars in the galaxy (1). Thousands of planets have been discovered, with thousands of more planet candidates identified (2). Several different planet-finding techniques have matured and contribute to our present knowledge of exoplanets (3). Each technique has different sensitivities that favor a planet-star separation and planet mass or size range limits (Fig. 1). Because of the selection effect, none of the current exoplanet-finding techniques can find solar system copies. Astronomers have nonetheless found a completely unexpected diversity of exoplanets, a veritable “zoo” containing many astonishing planet types.


The search for signs of life on exoplanets at the interface of chemistry and planetary science.

Seager S, Bains W - Sci Adv (2015)

Exoplanet discovery space as of 2014.Color coded according to the planet discovery technique. (Left) Plotted as mass versus orbital period and not including Kepler discoveries. (Right) Plotted as radius versus orbital period (and using a simplified mass-radius relationship to transform planet mass to radius) and shows just how many exoplanets have been discovered, most by the Kepler space telescope. The paucity of planets of Earth’s size or mass and orbit emphasizes the challenge of exoEarth discovery with any planet-discovery technique. Figure from (10).
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
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getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4643826&req=5

Figure 1: Exoplanet discovery space as of 2014.Color coded according to the planet discovery technique. (Left) Plotted as mass versus orbital period and not including Kepler discoveries. (Right) Plotted as radius versus orbital period (and using a simplified mass-radius relationship to transform planet mass to radius) and shows just how many exoplanets have been discovered, most by the Kepler space telescope. The paucity of planets of Earth’s size or mass and orbit emphasizes the challenge of exoEarth discovery with any planet-discovery technique. Figure from (10).
Mentions: Our Milky Way Galaxy is teeming with exoplanets—statistically speaking at least one for each of the hundreds of billions of stars in the galaxy (1). Thousands of planets have been discovered, with thousands of more planet candidates identified (2). Several different planet-finding techniques have matured and contribute to our present knowledge of exoplanets (3). Each technique has different sensitivities that favor a planet-star separation and planet mass or size range limits (Fig. 1). Because of the selection effect, none of the current exoplanet-finding techniques can find solar system copies. Astronomers have nonetheless found a completely unexpected diversity of exoplanets, a veritable “zoo” containing many astonishing planet types.

Bottom Line: The discovery of thousands of exoplanets in the last two decades that are so different from planets in our own solar system challenges many areas of traditional planetary science.However, ideas for how to detect signs of life in this mélange of planetary possibilities have lagged, and only in the last few years has modeling how signs of life might appear on genuinely alien worlds begun in earnest.Recent results have shown that the exciting frontier for biosignature gas ideas is not in the study of biology itself, which is inevitably rooted in Earth's geochemical and evolutionary specifics, but in the interface of chemistry and planetary physics.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA. ; Department of Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.

ABSTRACT
The discovery of thousands of exoplanets in the last two decades that are so different from planets in our own solar system challenges many areas of traditional planetary science. However, ideas for how to detect signs of life in this mélange of planetary possibilities have lagged, and only in the last few years has modeling how signs of life might appear on genuinely alien worlds begun in earnest. Recent results have shown that the exciting frontier for biosignature gas ideas is not in the study of biology itself, which is inevitably rooted in Earth's geochemical and evolutionary specifics, but in the interface of chemistry and planetary physics.

No MeSH data available.