Habitable Zones & Global Climate: March 2014

Our understanding of the processes that are relevant to the formation and maintenance of habitable planetary systems is advancing at a rapid pace, both from observation and theory.

Earth is the only known example of an inhabited planet in the universe, so the search for alien life has focused on Earth-like worlds.

HARPS and it Kepler results indicate that half of solar-type stars host planets with periods P<100 d and masses M < 30 M_E.

When we think of where else life might exist in the universe, we tend to focus on planets. But on a grander cosmic scale, moons could prove the more common life-friendly abode.

Models of planet formation have shown that giant planets have a large impact on the number, masses and orbits of terrestrial planets that form.

The "holy grail" in planet hunting is the detection of an Earth-analog: a planet with similar mass as the Earth and an orbit inside the habitable zone.

Geologic cycles act as a climate control, releasing and absorbing atmospheric carbon dioxide in a balance that helps keep the planet not too hot and not too cold.

Alien planets circling the most common stars in the universe may often have strange lobster-shaped oceans on their surfaces, researchers in China now say.

We developed an idealized two-column model to investigate the climate of tidally locked terrestrial planets with Earth-like atmospheres in the habitable zone of M-dwarf stars.

Detection of life on other planets requires identification of biosignatures, i.e., observable planetary properties that robustly indicate the presence of a biosphere.

Astronomers at the University of Washington have developed a new method of gauging the atmospheric pressure of exoplanets, or worlds beyond the solar system, by looking for a certain type of molecule.

Three new planets classified as habitable-zone super-Earths are amongst eight new planets discovered orbiting nearby red dwarf stars by an international team of astronomers from the UK and Chile.

In the mid-1970s, the first available satellite images of Antarctica during the polar winter revealed a huge ice-free region within the ice pack of the Weddell Sea. This ice-free region, or polynya, stayed open for three full winters before it closed.