Biosignatures & Paleobiology

An Information Theory Approach to Identifying Signs of Life on Transiting Planets

By Keith Cowing
Status Report
October 17, 2023
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An Information Theory Approach to Identifying Signs of Life on Transiting Planets
Jensen-Shannon divergence density of Earth-like planets orbiting different host stars compared to modern Earth. Each row represents Earth-like planets orbiting a different spectral class of host star; each column shows a different wavelength band with higher magnification in the near-infrared to better show the absorption features in that range. We represent here as a function of wavelength rather than wavenumber for readability, but emphasize that the two quantities have a one-to-one relationship, so this does not impact our resu — astro-ph.EP

Can information theory provide insights into whether exoplanets are habitable? Here we apply information theory to a range of simulated exoplanet transmission spectra as a diagnostic tool to search for potential signatures of life on Earth-analog planets.

We test the algorithms on three epochs of evolution for Earth-like planets orbiting a range of host stars. The James Webb Space Telescope and upcoming ground- and space-based missions promise to achieve sufficient high-resolution data that information theory can be applied to assess habitability.

This approach provides a framework and a tool for observers to assess whether an exoplanet shows signs of habitability.

Sara Vannah, Marcelo Gleiser, Lisa Kaltenegger

Comments: 6 pages, 3 figures, and 2 supplemental figures. Accepted for publication in MNRAS Letters. Comments welcome
Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP); Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics (astro-ph.IM)
Cite as: arXiv:2310.09472 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:2310.09472v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Sara Vannah
[v1] Sat, 14 Oct 2023 02:39:25 UTC (332 KB)

Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA Space Station Payload manager/space biologist, Away Teams, Journalist, Lapsed climber, Synaesthete, Na’Vi-Jedi-Freman-Buddhist-mix, ASL, Devon Island and Everest Base Camp veteran, (he/him) 🖖🏻