Exoplanets and the Search for Atmospheric Biosignature Gases

19/05/2021 - 14:00 - 15:00
Remoto, com transmissão pela internet
Exoplanets and the Search for Atmospheric Biosignature Gases
Sara Seager
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Thousands of exoplanets are known to orbit nearby stars and small rocky planets are established to be common.  Driving the field is the study of exoplanet atmospheres, with the goal of detecting a gas that might be indicative of life. A suitable “biosignature gas” is not just one that might be produced by life, but one that: can accumulate in an atmosphere against atmospheric radicals and other sinks; has strong atmospheric spectral features; and has limited abiological false positives. Which gases might be potential biosignature gases in an as yet unknown range of exoplanetary environments? New computer simulations and next-generation telescopes coming online means the ambitious goal of searching for “biosignature gases” in a rocky exoplanet atmosphere is within reach.  
Sara Seager is the Class of 1941 Professor of Planetary Science, Professor of Physics, and Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her past research laid the foundation for the field of exoplanet atmospheres, while her current research focuses on exoplanet atmospheres and the future search for signs of life by way of atmospheric biosignature gases.