Archives

July 2014


With the discovery of hundreds of exoplanets and a potentially huge number of Earth-like planets waiting to be discovered, the conditions for their habitability have become a focal point in exoplanetary research.

Researchers at Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics Finger Silicon-Capped Hydrocarbons as Possible Source of Mysterious "Diffuse Interstellar Bands"

In this paper, we investigate the conditions required for the 3 and 17 Earth mass solid planets in the Kepler-10 system to have formed through collisions and mergers within an initial population of embryos.

Observations of debris disks allow for the study of planetary systems, even where planets have not been detected.

This work is part of an ongoing project which aims to detect terrestrial planets in our neighbouring star system α Centauri using the Doppler method.

A team of astronomers has made the most precise measurements yet of water vapour in the atmospheres of Jupiter-like planets beyond our Solar System and found them to be much drier worlds than expected.

Parts of the primordial soup in which life arose have been maintained in our cells today according to scientists at the University of East Anglia.

The recent discoveries of terrestrial exoplanets and super Earths extending over a broad range of orbital and physical parameters suggests that these planets will span a wide range of climatic regimes.

The core accretion theory for giant planet formation predicts enrichment of elemental abundances in planetary envelopes caused by runaway accretion of planetesimals, which is consistent with measured super-solar abundances of C, N, P, S, Xe, and Ar in Jupiter's atmosphere.

Humanity is on the threshold of being able to detect signs of alien life on other worlds. By studying exoplanet atmospheres, we can look for gases like oxygen and methane that only coexist if replenished by life.

One of the primary goals of exoplanet science is to find and characterize habitable planets, and direct imaging will play a key role in this effort.

New research published today in the journal Astrobiology shows the vital role of oceans in moderating climate on Earth-like planets.

We present the results of our Hubble Space Telescope program and describe how our image analysis methods were used to re-evaluate the habitability of some of the most interesting Kepler planet candidates.

Here we discuss one of the current reservoirs of water on Mars, the regolith and rocks exposed at the surface.

The M dwarf Gliese 581 is believed to host four planets, including one (GJ 581d) near the habitable zone that could possibly support liquid water on its surface if it is a rocky planet.

NASA has issued an Announcement of Opportunity (AO) for proposals about science instruments that could be carried aboard a future mission to Jupiter's moon Europa. Selected instruments could address fundamental questions about the icy moon and the search for life beyond Earth.

We quantify the effects of refraction in transit transmission spectroscopy on spectral absorption features and on temporal variations that could be used to obtain altitude-dependent spectra for planets orbiting stars of different stellar types.

We report near-infrared spectroscopy of the gas giant planet HD 189733b in transit. We used the Hubble Space Telescope Wide Field Camera 3 (HST WFC3) with its G141 grism covering 1.1 um to 1.7 um and spatially scanned the image across the detector at 2\arcsecs−1.

The search for life on planets outside our solar system will use spectroscopic identification of atmospheric biosignatures.

NASA Television will air a panel discussion of leading science and engineering experts on Monday, July 14, from 2 to 3:30 p.m. EDT, who will describe the scientific and technological roadmap that will lead to the discovery of potentially habitable worlds among the stars.

As anybody who has started a campfire by rubbing sticks knows, friction generates heat. Now, computer modeling by NASA scientists shows that friction could be the key to survival for some distant Earth-sized planets traveling in dangerous orbits.

High resolution imaging is an important tool for follow-up study of exoplanet candidates found via transit detection with the Kepler Mission. We discuss here HST imaging with the WFC3 of 23 stars that host particularly interesting Kepler planet candidates based on their small size and cool equilibrium temperature estimates.

Fullerenes are a particularly stable class of carbon molecules in the shape of a hollow sphere or ellipsoid that might be formed in the outflows of carbon stars. Once injected into the interstellar medium (ISM), these stable species survive and are thus likely to be widespread in the Galaxy where they contribute to interstellar extinction, heating processes, and complex chemical reactions.

Kepler-78b is a transiting Earth-mass planet in an 8.5 hr orbit discovered by the Kepler Space Mission. We performed an analysis of the published radial velocity measurements for Kepler-78 in order to derive a refined measurement for the planet mass.

Several clues indicate that Titan's atmosphere has been depleted in methane during some period of its history, possibly as recently as 0.5-1 billion years ago. It could also happen in the future.

Current gas phase models do not account for the abundances of HNCO isomers detected in various environments, suggesting a formation in icy grain mantles.

A newly discovered planet in a binary star system located 3,000 light-years from Earth is expanding astronomers' notions of where Earth-like--and even potentially habitable--planets can form, and how to find them.

Mysteries about controversial signals coming from a dwarf star considered to be a prime target in the search for extraterrestrial life now have been solved in research led by scientists at Penn State University.

In a study published in PLOS ONE, researchers led by Deborah Kimbrell, Ph.D., at UC Davis and their collaborators, studied how microorganisms may alter fruit flies' immunity in space and in hypergravity, or increased gravity. The article is titled "Toll Mediated Infection Response Is Altered by Gravity and Spaceflight in Drosophila."

In 2011, hydrogen peroxide (HOOH) was observed for the first time outside the solar system (Bergman et al., A&A, 2011, 531, L8).