How to Identify an Inhabited Exoplanet


Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 4:00pm


Geo Museum, 24 Oxford Street, Haller Hall, Rm. 102, Cambridge, MA

Sara Seager (MIT - Dept. of Earth, Atmospheric & Planetary Sciences)

Biosignature gases are gases emitted by life that can accumulate in an exoplanet atmosphere to remotely detectable levels by future space telescopes. Until now, the dominant focus has been on Earth-like planets, because Earth is the only known planet with life. Yet exoplanets are astonishingly diverse—in terms of their masses, densities, orbits, and host star types—and this diversity motivates a radical extension of what conventionally constitutes a habitable planet. By building a general framework with which to understand a wide range of plausible biosignature gases, we will increase our chances of identifying inhabited worlds.

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