Today’s paper proposes a detection method for technologically advanced life that goes beyond the usual SETI signals: looking at exoplanet atmospheres not just for the presence of life in general, but for the chemical signatures of intelligent life.
Exoplanets with moons could mimic alien life-signs.
A simple and elegant (but hard) alternative method for measuring exoplanet masses.
Astronomers love to ignore magnetic fields. But they may strongly affect the pattern of atmospheric circulation in hot Jupiters.
The search for exoplanets in their habitable zones continues. But exomoons could be habitable, too! This paper models hypothetical exomoons in four real systems to determine the habitability of moons around planets that don’t necessarily stay in the habitable zone.
A new brown dwarf system has been discovered only 2 parsec away; Gillon et al. analyze its light curve to study clouds on the surfaces of these stars.
The field of exoplanet research is rapidly expanding. Presented here are the results from a recent ground-based study of an exoplanet’s atmosphere. We have characterized the atmospheres of less than ten exoplanets. By opening up the frontier for ground-based telescopes to do such ground-breaking research we will be able to characterize the atmospheres of hundreds of exoplanets.
Astronomers don’t stop after discovering planets in systems near and far from our own solar system. The next big step is to characterize the planets. We want to understand what they’re made of, what their atmospheres look like, whether they have clouds, how massive they are, how old they are, etc. As it turns out characterizing exoplanets is really, really challenging for both observers and modelers. The challenges encountered are well illustrated by the saga of WASP-12b.
Astronomers have started trying to understand how to organize classes of exoplanets based on their physical characteristics. As it has turned out over the last ten years, exoplanets are considerably more complicated to classify than stars. The evolution of star is based (almost) exclusively on how massive it is at birth. Instead, this paper classifies hot exoplanets by their level of irradiation from their host star and their chemical composition.
If you would like to live in a less-polluted world, you might want to consider moving to Wasp-19b. Its lack of a temperature inversion helps it keep clear skies.