Super-Earth & Life: A Fascinating Puzzle


Wednesday, September 15, 2010, 4:00pm


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

Lisa Kaltenegger (Harvard University/CfA/Origins of Life)

The first Super-Earths have recently been discovered. This number will rise significantly when Kepler planetary candidates will be confirmed. We show models for rocky Super-Earth atmospheres and derive detectable spectroscopic features that can indicate habitable environments in transmission and emergent spectra for future space- and ground based telescopes like the James Webb Space Telescope. What does it take for super-Earths to support life? As a specific example, we show under which condition the recently discovered M-dwarf planet Gl581 d is potentially habitable. This talk will focus on the cross-disciplinary connection between planetary science, biology and astronomy and explore its remotely detectable features in a planets atmosphere. The observational features of the planet are used to derive observable quantities to examine if our concept of habitability is correct and how we can find the first habitable new worlds in the sky.

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