Biosignatures & Paleobiology: July 2014

A team of astronomers has made the most precise measurements yet of water vapour in the atmospheres of Jupiter-like planets beyond our Solar System and found them to be much drier worlds than expected.

Humanity is on the threshold of being able to detect signs of alien life on other worlds. By studying exoplanet atmospheres, we can look for gases like oxygen and methane that only coexist if replenished by life.

We quantify the effects of refraction in transit transmission spectroscopy on spectral absorption features and on temporal variations that could be used to obtain altitude-dependent spectra for planets orbiting stars of different stellar types.