Archives

September 2014


Identifying the source of Earth's water is central to understanding the origins of life-fostering environments and to assessing the prevalence of such environments in space.

Clouds have an important role in the atmospheres of planetary bodies. It is expected that, like all the planetary bodies in our solar system, exoplanet atmospheres will also have substantial cloud coverage, and evidence is mounting for clouds in a number of hot Jupiters.

Exoplanets are now being discovered in profusion. However, to understand their character requires spectral models and data.

We propose a method to distinguish between cloudy, hazy and clearsky (free of clouds and hazes) exoplanet atmospheres that could be applicable to upcoming large aperture space and ground-based telescopes such as JWST and E-ELT.

Studying exoplanets with their parent stars is crucial to understand their population, formation and history. We review some of the key questions regarding their evolution with particular emphasis on giant gaseous exoplanets orbiting close to solar-type stars.

A Virginia Tech geobiologist with collaborators from the Chinese Academy of Sciences have found evidence in the fossil record that complex multicellularity appeared in living things about 600 million years ago.

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy, Cornell University, and the University of Cologne have for the first time detected a carbon-bearing molecule with a "branched" structure in interstellar space.

A pioneering new study has shown that water found on Earth predates the formation of the Sun -- raising hopes that life could exist on exoplanets, the planets orbiting other stars in our galaxy.

Astronomers using data from three of NASA's space telescopes -- Hubble, Spitzer and Kepler -- have discovered clear skies and steamy water vapor on a gaseous planet outside our solar system.

Our aim is to determine the critical parameters in water chemistry and the contribution of water to the oxygen budget by observing and modelling water gas and ice for a sample of eleven low-mass protostars, for which both forms of water have been observed.

Complex organic molecules (COMs) have been detected in a variety of environments, including cold prestellar cores.

Antarctic fish that manufacture their own "antifreeze" proteins to survive in the icy Southern Ocean also suffer an unfortunate side effect, researchers report: The protein-bound ice crystals that accumulate inside their bodies resist melting even when temperatures warm.

NASA's Exposing Microorganisms in the Stratosphere (E-MIST) experiment launched to the Earth's stratosphere on the exterior of a giant scientific balloon gondola at about 8 a.m. MST on Aug. 24 from Ft. Sumner, New Mexico.

Future radial velocity, astrometric and direct imaging surveys will find nearby Earth-sized planets within the habitable zone (HZ) in the near future. How can we search for water and oxygen in those non-transiting planets?

In no other field of astrophysics has the impact of new instrumentation been as substantial as in the domain of exoplanets.

ExoEarth yield is a critical science metric for future exoplanet imaging missions. Here we estimate exoEarth candidate yield using single visit completeness for a variety of mission design and astrophysical parameters.

We report on the characterization of the Kepler-101 planetary system, thanks to a combined DE-MCMC analysis of Kepler data and forty radial velocities obtained with the HARPS-N spectrograph. This system was previously validated by Rowe et al. (2014) and is composed of a hot super-Neptune, Kepler-101b, and an Earth-sized planet, Kepler-101c.

The detection and atmospheric characterization of super-Earths is one of the major frontiers of exoplanetary science. Currently, extensive efforts are underway to detect molecules, particularly H2O, in super-Earth atmospheres.

Two Northeastern University researchers and their international colleagues have created an advanced model aimed at exploring the role of neutral evolution in the biogeographic distribution of ocean microbes.

Spectroscopic observations of exoplanets are crucial to infer the composition and properties of their atmospheres. HD 189733b is one of the most extensively studied exoplanets and is a corner stone for hot Jupiter models.

The finding of a 'cell-like' structure, which investigators now know once held water, came about as a result of collaboration between scientists in the UK and Greece. Their findings are published in the latest edition of the journal Astrobiology.

Conditions on Earth for the first 500 million years after it formed may have been surprisingly similar to the present day, complete with oceans, continents and active crustal plates.

The NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI) welcomes back Dr. Carl B. Pilcher as NAI Interim Director.

A team of scientists led by Carnegie's Jacqueline Faherty has discovered the first evidence of water ice clouds on an object outside of our own Solar System.

Several circumbinary planets have recently been discovered. The orbit of a planet around a binary stellar system poses several dynamic constraints.

The principle definition of habitability for exoplanets is whether they can sustain liquid water on their surfaces, i.e. that they orbit within the habitable zone.

Geologists from Trinity College Dublin have rewritten the evolutionary history books by finding that oxygen-producing life forms were present on Earth some 3 billion years ago - a full 60 million years earlier than previously thought.

A reasonable basis for future astronomical investigations of exoplanets lies in our best knowledge of the planets and satellites in the Solar System.

Detection and characterization of potentially habitable Earth-size extrasolar planets is one of the major goals of contemporary astronomy.

The chemical elements are created in nuclear fusion processes in the hot and dense cores of stars. The energy generated through nucleosynthesis allows stars to shine for billions of years.

A significant fraction of Kepler systems are closely-packed, largely coplanar and circular. We study the stability of a 6-planet system, Kepler-11, to gain insights on the dynamics and formation history of such systems.

Gliese 667C is an M1.5V star with a multi-planet system, including planet candidates in the habitable zone (HZ).

Associated Universities, Inc. (AUI), and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) have awarded the 2014 Karl G. Jansky Lectureship to Dr. Jill C. Tarter, of the SETI Institute. The Jansky Lectureship is an honor established by the trustees of AUI to recognize outstanding contributions to the advancement of radio astronomy.