Extrasolar Planets

Triaxial Deformation and Asynchronous Rotation of Rocky Planets in the Habitable Zone of Low-Mass Stars

Triaxial Deformation and Asynchronous Rotation of Rocky Planets in the Habitable Zone of Low-Mass Stars

Rocky planets orbiting M-dwarf stars in the habitable zone tend to be driven to synchronous rotation by tidal dissipation, potentially causing difficulties for maintaining a habitable climate on the planet.

Extrasolar Planets

The Equilibrium Temperature of Planets in Elliptical Orbits

The Equilibrium Temperature of Planets in Elliptical Orbits

There exists a positive correlation between orbital eccentricity and the average stellar flux that planets receive from their parent star. Often, though, it is assumed that the average equilibrium temperature would correspondingly increase with eccentricity.

TRAPPIST-1

UV Surface Habitability of the TRAPPIST-1 System

UV Surface Habitability of the TRAPPIST-1 System

With the discovery of rocky planets in the temperate habitable zone (HZ) of the close-by cool star TRAPPIST-1 the question of whether such planets could also harbour life arises.

Extrasolar Planets

Spitzer Telescope Telescope Reveals Largest Batch of Earth-Size, Habitable-Zone Planets Around Single Star

Spitzer Telescope Telescope Reveals Largest Batch of Earth-Size, Habitable-Zone Planets Around Single Star

NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has revealed the first known system of seven Earth-size planets around a single star. Three of these planets are firmly located in the habitable zone, the area around the parent star where a rocky planet is most likely to have liquid water.

Ceres

Dawn Discovers Evidence for Organic Material on Ceres

Dawn Discovers Evidence for Organic Material on Ceres

NASA's Dawn mission has found evidence for organic material on Ceres, a dwarf planet and the largest body in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

Habitable Zones & Global Climate

A Supernova at 50 pc: Effects on the Earth's Atmosphere and Biota

A Supernova at 50 pc: Effects on the Earth's Atmosphere and Biota

Recent 60Fe results have suggested that the estimated distances of supernovae in the last few million years should be reduced from 100 pc to 50 pc. Two events or series of events are suggested, one about 2.7 million years to 1.7 million years ago, and another may at 6.5 to 8.7 million years ago.

Proxima Centauri b

Is Proxima Centauri b Habitable? - A Study of Atmospheric Loss

Is Proxima Centauri b Habitable? - A Study of Atmospheric Loss

We address the important question of whether the newly discovered exoplanet, Proxima Centauri b (PCb), is capable of retaining an atmosphere over long periods of time. This is done by adapting a sophisticated multi-species MHD model originally developed for Venus and Mars, and computing the ion escape losses from PCb.

Extremeophiles and Extreme Environments

Algae Survive Heat, Cold and Cosmic Radiation Outside of the Space Station

Algae Survive Heat, Cold and Cosmic Radiation Outside of the Space Station

In a long-term experiment on the International Space Station, Fraunhofer researchers studied how the extreme conditions in space affect algae. Fraunhofer conducted this experiment in close cooperation with German and international partners. Research findings could benefit industrial applications and perhaps a mission to Mars.

Habitable Zones & Global Climate

Constraints on Climate and Habitability for Earth-like Exoplanets Determined from a General Circulation Model

Constraints on Climate and Habitability for Earth-like Exoplanets Determined from a General Circulation Model

Conventional definitions of habitability require abundant liquid surface water to exist continuously over geologic timescales. Water in each of its thermodynamic phases interacts with solar and thermal radiation and is the cause for strong climatic feedbacks.

Habitable Zones & Global Climate

Pale Orange Dots: The Impact of Organic Haze on the Habitability and Detectability of Earthlike Exoplanets

Pale Orange Dots: The Impact of Organic Haze on the Habitability and Detectability of Earthlike Exoplanets

Hazes are common in known planet atmospheres, and geochemical evidence suggests early Earth occasionally supported an organic haze with significant environmental and spectral consequences. The UV spectrum of the parent star drives organic haze formation through methane photochemistry.

Astrochemistry

Dwarf Star 200 Light Years Away Contains Life's Building Blocks

Dwarf Star 200 Light Years Away Contains Life's Building Blocks

Many scientists believe the Earth was dry when it first formed, and that the building blocks for life on our planet -- carbon, nitrogen and water -- appeared only later as a result of collisions with other objects in our solar system that had those elements.

More top stories from February.