From astrobites: ” Modeling Limitless Skies”

Astrobites bloc

astrobites

10.31.17
Jamila Pegues

Title: Redox Evolution via Gravitational Differentiation on Low Mass Planets: Implications for Biosignatures, Water Loss and Habitability
Authors: R. Wordsworth, L. Schaefer, R. Fischer
First Author’s Institution: Harvard University

Status: Submitted to ApJ, open access

1
Artist’s impression of an exoplanet with an atmosphere, as viewed in front of its host star. [NASA Goddard SFC]

Looking for Life

If you’ve been tuning into astronomy news lately, you’ve probably heard about a number of cool new exoplanet discoveries, like those in the TRAPPIST-1 system, continuously rolling in from our telescopes hard at work. But no matter how, when, and where a new exoplanet is discovered, there’s always that question burning at the back of our minds: could this exoplanet have Earth-like life?

This question is certainly not an easy one to answer. For an exoplanet to house life (as we understand life so far), there’s a long checklist of requirements (like those discussed here and also here) that we need the exoplanet to fulfill. For example, life as we know it survives and thrives on liquid water, so we require that the exoplanet has the ability to hold liquid water.

Today’s astrobite focuses on another important requirement: the exoplanet’s atmospheric composition. Here on Earth, for instance, we have a lot of wonderful plant-based and plant-like creatures (like trees) that produce oxygen through photosynthesis. Then other creatures here (like humans) use that oxygen to survive and thrive. So for an exoplanet to have Earth-like life, we expect it to have a buildup of oxygen.

See the full article here .

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Astrobites is a daily astrophysical literature journal written by graduate students in astronomy. Our goal is to present one interesting paper per day in a brief format that is accessible to undergraduate students in the physical sciences who are interested in active research.
Why read Astrobites?

Reading a technical paper from an unfamiliar subfield is intimidating. It may not be obvious how the techniques used by the researchers really work or what role the new research plays in answering the bigger questions motivating that field, not to mention the obscure jargon! For most people, it takes years for scientific papers to become meaningful.
Our goal is to solve this problem, one paper at a time. In 5 minutes a day reading Astrobites, you should not only learn about one interesting piece of current work, but also get a peek at the broader picture of research in a new area of astronomy.