Planets orbiting close to type-M dwarf stars are in the habitable zone, but if their orbits are in a 3:2 spin resonance, do their long, strange days and nights have a chance of supporting photosynthetic life?
In search of a good origin story for the building blocks of life, the authors of this paper have set their sights higher. Literally higher, to exoplanets’ skies.
Can life spread from Earth to the moons of Jupiter and Saturn on rock ejected from meteoroid collisions? The authors of this paper start on answering this question by asking if ejected material from Earth can even reach the gas giants’ moons. The answer is yes, so it’s possible that microbial Earthlings have already traveled a lot farther than human ones.
This paper asks what the biosphere of the Earth will look like billions of years from now, when the era of life is ending. What biosignatures might we detect from a dying planet?
This article uses theoretical modeling to estimate the influence of ice and snow on the habitability of extrasolar planets. This work differentiates itself from past efforts by including the influence of the atmosphere, and by considering planets orbiting M-dwarfs in addition to Sun-like stars.
The Hunt for Exomoons with Kepler project has conducted the first ever search for a moon around a planet in the habitable zone. While they find no evidence for such a moon, they demonstrate that Earth-sized and possibly habitable moons should be easily detectable with the current Kepler data.
Detailed atmospheric models reveal that planets can be habitable much closer to their host star than previously thought, provided they have desert-like climates. This expanded definition of the habitable zone increases the number of planets that could support life by a factor of 2-3.
As we discover exoplanets in droves and the first hints of habitable worlds emerge, astronomers are starting to look to the next step: the search for life on those worlds.
Astronomers search for radio signals from exoplanets discovered by Kepler. They find nothing. What does this imply about intelligent life elsewhere in the Galaxy?
Some exoplanets seem to have walked directly out of the best science fiction movies. Taking these planets into example, the question of habitability seems like a joke. But what if we stopped looking at these extreme worlds and turned our eyes to their moons instead? Surely their moons are less extreme. And given that our own Jupiter hosts 67 moons, surely they’re more abundant. Can such extreme planets host habitable moons? The 36-page paper written by Heller and Barnes attempts to address this question.