Archives

October 2016


Ice covered ocean worlds are probably seismically active. Measuring that activity can provide information about global and local habitability.

The evidence for abundant liquid water on early Mars despite the faint young Sun is a long-standing problem in planetary research.

Many atmospheres (cool stars, brown dwarfs, giant planets, extrasolar planets) are predominately composed of molecular hydrogen and helium.

Chemistry plays an important role in the interstellar medium (ISM), regulating heating and cooling of the gas, and determining abundances of molecular species that trace gas properties in observations.

[Methods]. We obtained high-precision radial velocities with HARPS on the ESO 3.6 m telescope and determined precise stellar elemental abundances (~0.01 dex) using MIKE spectra on the Magellan 6.5m telescope.

Breakthrough Listen, which was created last year with $100 million in funding over 10 years from the Breakthrough Prize Foundation and its founder, internet investor Yuri Milner, won't be the first to search for intelligent life around this star.

A Fourier transform analysis of 2.5 million spectra in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey was carried out to detect periodic spectral modulations. Signals having the same period were found in only 234 stars overwhelmingly in the F2 to K1 spectral range.

Computer simulations by astrophysicists at the University of Bern of the formation of planets orbiting in the habitable zone of low mass stars such as Proxima Centauri show that these planets are most likely to be roughly the size of the Earth and to contain large amounts of water.

One of the most detailed genomic studies of any ecosystem to date has revealed an underground world of stunning microbial diversity, and added dozens of new branches to the tree of life.

Insufficient instrument thermo-mechanical stability is one of the many roadblocks for achieving 10cm/s Doppler radial velocity (RV) precision, the precision needed to detect Earth-twins orbiting Solar-type stars.

The UV environment is a key boundary condition for the origin of life. However, considerable uncertainty exists as to planetary conditions and hence surface UV at abiogenesis.

We retrieve vertical and meridional variations of methane mole fraction in Titan's lower troposphere by re-analyzing near-infrared ground-based observations from 17 July 2014 UT (Adamkovics et al., 2016).

The processes that govern the evolution of dust and water (in the form of vapor or ice) in protoplanetary disks are intimately connected. We have developed a model that simulates dust coagulation, dust dynamics (settling, turbulent mixing), vapor diffusion, and condensation/sublimation of volatiles onto grains in a vertical column of a protoplanetary disk.

The prospects for the habitability of M-dwarf planets have long been debated, due to key differences between the unique stellar and planetary environments around these low-mass stars, as compared to hotter, more luminous Sun-like stars.

Recognizing whether a planet can support life is a primary goal of future exoplanet spectral characterization missions, but past research on habitability assessment has largely ignored the vastly different conditions that have existed in our planet's long habitable history.

A comet strike may have triggered the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), a rapid warming of the Earth caused by an accumulation of atmospheric carbon dioxide 56 million years ago, which offers analogs to global warming today.

We analyze data from the Quarter 1-17 Data Release 24 (Q1--Q17 DR24) planet candidate catalog from NASA's Kepler mission, specifically comparing systems with single transiting planets to systems with multiple transiting planets, and identify a distinct population of exoplanets with a necessarily distinct system architecture.

Life exists in a myriad of wondrous forms, but if you break any organism down to its most basic parts, it's all the same stuff: carbon atoms connected to hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and other elements.

The National Astronomical Observatories of China (NAOC) is joining forces with the Breakthrough Initiatives to launch a coordinated search for evidence of intelligent life beyond Earth

The original recipe for gene soup may have been simple -- rain, a jumble of common molecules, warm sunshine, and nighttime cooling. Then add a pinch of thickener.

Inspired by the recent Kepler discoveries of circumbinary planets orbiting nine close binary stars, we explore the fate of the former as the latter evolve off the main sequence.

The recent discovery of an Earth-like exoplanet around Proxima Centauri has shined a spot light on slowly rotating fully convective M-stars.

Water-rich planets such as Earth are expected to become eventually uninhabitable, because liquid water does not remain stable at the surface as surface temperatures increase with the solar luminosity over time.

Small-crater counts on Mars light-toned sedimentary rock are often inconsistent with any isochron; these data are usually plotted then ignored.

For at least a billion years of the distant past, planet Earth should have been frozen over but wasn't. Scientists thought they knew why, but a new modeling study from the Alternative Earths team of the NASA Astrobiology Institute has fired the lead actor in that long-accepted scenario.

Today astronomers celebrate the inauguration of the Green Bank Observatory in West Virginia, home to the 100-meter Green Bank Telescope, one of the world's most powerful astronomical instruments.

We report the first ground-based transit observation of K2-3d, a 1.5 R_Earth planet supposedly within the habitable zone around a bright M-dwarf host star, using the Okayama 188-cm telescope and the multi(grz)-band imager MuSCAT.

Recent surveys have uncovered an exciting new population of ultra-short-period (USP) planets with orbital periods less than a day. These planets typically have radii <1.5 Earth radii, indicating that they likely have rocky compositions.

Astronomers have discovered a 'hot molecular core,' a cocoon of molecules surrounding a newborn massive star, for the first time outside our galaxy.

We explore the possible Proxima Centauri b's interiors assuming the planet belongs to the class of dense solid planets (rocky with possible addition of water) and derive the corresponding radii.