Extrasolar Planets

Temperature Structure and Atmospheric Circulation of Dry, Tidally Locked Rocky Exoplanets

Temperature Structure and Atmospheric Circulation of Dry, Tidally Locked Rocky Exoplanets

Next-generation space telescopes will observe the atmospheres of rocky planets orbiting nearby M-dwarfs. Understanding these observations will require well-developed theory in addition to numerical simulations.

Extrasolar Planets

Survival of Habitable Planets in Unstable Planetary Systems

Survival of Habitable Planets in Unstable Planetary Systems

Many observed giant planets lie on eccentric orbits. Such orbits could be the result of strong scatterings with other giant planets. The same dynamical instability that produces giant planet scatterings can also alter the orbits of terrestrial planets.

comets

Melting Pots for Life on Earth

Melting Pots for Life on Earth

Geochemists from Trinity College Dublin's School of Natural Sciences may have found a solution to a long-debated problem as to where - and how - life first formed on Earth.

Extrasolar Planets

Water Loss From Earth-sized Planets in Ultracool Dwarf Habitable Zones

Water Loss From Earth-sized Planets in Ultracool Dwarf Habitable Zones

Ultracool dwarfs (UCD) encompass the population of extremely low mass stars (later than M6-type) and brown dwarfs.

Enceladus

THEO Concept Mission: Testing the Habitability of Enceladus's Ocean

THEO Concept Mission: Testing the Habitability of Enceladus's Ocean

Saturn's moon Enceladus offers a unique opportunity in the search for life and habitable environments beyond Earth, a key theme of the National Research Council's 2013-2022 Decadal Survey.

Biosignatures & Paleobiology

Using Clouds to Map Life

Using Clouds to Map Life

Clouds may seem like distant, ephemeral features that have little to do with life on Earth. In fact, they affect everything from the viability of ecosystems, to how much carbon plants absorb, to the reproductive success of reptiles.

Extrasolar Planets

Three Potentially Habitable Worlds Found Around Nearby Ultracool Dwarf Star

Three Potentially Habitable Worlds Found Around Nearby Ultracool Dwarf Star

Astronomers using the TRAPPIST telescope at ESO's La Silla Observatory have discovered three planets orbiting an ultracool dwarf star just 40 light-years from Earth.

Habitable Zones & Global Climate

Temperature Constraints for Complex Life

Temperature Constraints for Complex Life

In an effort to derive temperature based criteria of habitability for multicellular life, we investigated the thermal limits of terrestrial poikilotherms, i.e. organisms whose body temperature and the functioning of all vital processes is directly affected by the ambient temperature.

Biosignatures & Paleobiology

Hypotheses for Near-surface Exchange of Methane on Mars

Hypotheses for Near-surface Exchange of Methane on Mars

The Curiosity rover recently detected a background of 0.7 ppb and spikes of 7 ppb of methane on Mars. This in situ measurement reorients our understanding of the Martian environment and its potential for life, as the current theories do not entail any geological source or sink of methane that varies sub-annually.

Biosignatures & Paleobiology

Debris Disks and the Search for Life in the Universe

Debris Disks and the Search for Life in the Universe

Circumstellar debris disks are the extrasolar analogues of the asteroid belt and the Kuiper belt. They consist of comets and leftover planetesimals that continuously collide and produce circumstellar dust that can be observed as infrared excess or in resolved imaging.

Astrogeology

Effects of Mg/Si on Exoplanetary Refractory Oxygen Budget

Effects of Mg/Si on Exoplanetary Refractory Oxygen Budget

Solar photospheric abundances of refractory elements mirror the Earth's to within ~10 mol% when normalized to the dominant terrestrial planet-forming elements Mg, Si and Fe. This allows for the adoption of Solar composition as an order-of-magnitude proxy for Earth's.

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