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June 2018


Each exoplanet revolves around a star, like the Earth around the Sun. This is why it is generally impossible to obtain images of an exoplanet, so dazzling is the light of its star.

In a paper published Wednesday (June 13) in The Astrophysical Journal, researchers at the University of California, Riverside and the University of Southern Queensland have identified more than 100 giant planets that potentially host moons capable of supporting life.

The spectrum of an exoplanet reveals the physical, chemical, and biological processes that have shaped its history and govern its future. However, observations of exoplanet spectra are complicated by the overwhelming glare of their host stars.

A milestone in understanding life in the universe is the detection of biosignature gases in the atmospheres of habitable exoplanets.

Research has shown that reactions of alpha-hydroxy acids, similar to the alpha-amino acids that make up modern proteins, form large polymers easily under conditions presumed prevalent on early Earth.

Current investigations of exoplanet biosignatures have focused on static evidence of life, such as the presence of biogenic gases like O2 or CH4.

Last year, scientists with NASA's Dawn mission announced the detection of organic material -- carbon-based compounds that are necessary components for life -- exposed in patches on the surface of the dwarf planet Ceres.

Plants are quicker to react and more sensitive than you might think - they can detect light changes in a fraction of a second and can bend towards light sources within minutes - and they respond equally fast to gravity.

Move over, cyanobacteria! A large-scale study of the Earth's surface ocean indicates the microbes responsible for fixing nitrogen there--previously thought to be almost exclusively photosynthetic cyanobacteria-include an abundant and widely distributed suite of non-photosynthetic bacterial populations.

Arguably, the greatest fueler of life on our planet is photosynthesis, but understanding its labyrinthine chemistry, powered by sunlight, is challenging. Researchers recently illuminated some new steps inside the molecular factory that makes the oxygen we breathe.

The availability of bioessential elements for "life as we know it", such as phosphorus (P) or possibly molybdenum (Mo), is expected to restrict the biological productivity of extraterrestrial biospheres.

This work assesses the potential capability of the next generation of high-precision Radial Velocity (RV) instruments for Earth-twin exoplanet detection.

In humanity's search for life outside our Solar System, one of the best places scientists have considered is Alpha Centauri, a system containing the three nearest stars beyond our Sun.

Curiosity has discovered new "tough" organic molecules in three-billion-year-old sedimentary rocks on Mars, increasing the chances that the record of habitability and potential life could have been preserved on the Red Planet, despite extremely harsh conditions on the surface that can easily break down organic molecules.