Planetary atmospheres: the search for the light of life using Penelope Cosmic Void

Planetary atmospheres: the search for the light of life using Penelope  Cosmic Void

Recreation of an exoplanet and the binary star on which it rotates.

Imagine for a moment Penelope, tired of waiting for Ulysses to make and unbutton socks for her father-in-law, decides to do something more productive with her life and embark on the space aviation sector. As an intelligent being, she concludes that if her husband were on this planet, he would have returned, so he would build a rocket and tell the same people that she was having fun with the pad to go looking for Ulysses into space. He drives fast, after all, it’s a lot more fun than crocheting, and he goes to the stars. And if Homer could afford centaurs, cyclops, sirens, and conversations with the dead in his Odyssey, I, a simple mortal, could afford to transfer scientific knowledge to the past, so my Penelope, in addition to being equipped with the brain’s latest advances in terrestrial astrophysics, was informed of the plans of the Earth’s large space agencies, missions that it hopes will complement its galactic research journey.

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In fact, Penelope’s goal is to search for extraterrestrial life, so the first stops are made in places in the solar system with the greatest potential for storage. She walks past Io and Europa, two moons of Jupiter, and considers it unlikely that her husband would be macroscopic between the volcanoes or under a 150 km long ice sheet that covers the surface (the truth is, he didn’t have a drill either). He continues his trip to Titan, Saturn’s moon, and because he doesn’t like the smell of methane in its atmosphere, he decided to try his luck at Enceladus, which is on the same motorway exit as Saturn, where he will spend some pleasant days taking hydrothermal baths. Before continuing the journey, he collects samples on the spot, which will be analyzed in search of signs of life, but these plans are left for the next mission. THAT (European Space Agency) a POT.

There are many other options than trying to capture this dim light to see if the conditions on the exoplanet are potentially suitable for life.

Since she has the rocket ready and paid, Penelope decides to move on. But where? Where could life be based on knowledge transferred from a post-pandemic and overheated Earth? It is not clear which one 4,786 confirmed planets (as of July 19, 2021) set the direction, mainly because all but one, Proxima b, are very far away, even for a fictional character who moves at the speed of light. So decide wisely, because the distances are so great that the composition of the planet’s atmosphere can give the best indication of what is beneath them. In fact, there are many other options than trying to capture this dim light to determine if the conditions on the exoplanet are potentially suitable for life.

He studies and finds that the most effective method yet to detect the atmosphere of exoplanets is to wait for the exoplanet to pass in front of the host star from our observation point on Earth or with telescopes that we have placed in orbit. Thus, when a small portion of stellar light passes through the planet’s atmosphere, molecules or atoms can be detected that absorb light at certain wavelengths, just as the Earth’s atmosphere filters light from the Sun. detected the first atmosphere on the exoplanet, HD 209458b, the element responsible for the absorption of light in this case was sodium, and the instrument by which the detection was carried out was fireproof and only two days ago was brought in from the Hades Hubble Space Telescope. This technique is a bit more complicated than what is described in the paper, but in this way we measured the atmospheres of exoplanets, which contain water, also methane, carbon monoxide and oxide and helium. In order to use this technique, we need transit planets (seen by us in front of the star) and planets like Jupiter, Neptune, and superland in orbits so small that a year in these worlds lasts only a few days, 4, or 5 (instead of 365 on Earth). ). The fraction of stellar light that passes through the atmosphere of a transiting exoplanet is very small, which limits both the telescopes and instruments that can be used and the planetary system that can be observed. Even if he can do something JWST or ELT With nearby terrestrial planets, planets like the Earth cannot be directly observed using current technology. For this reason, and so far, light from the atmosphere has been detected on only a few dozen large planets, out of thousands known. Something that will change very soon with the release ARIEL, ESA ‘s mission, which will measure the atmosphere of hundreds of transiting planets, mostly hot and mild gas giants orbiting near their stars.

The most effective method of detecting the exoplanet’s atmosphere to this day is to wait for the exoplanet to pass in front of the host star from our observation point on Earth or with telescopes we have placed in orbit.

If Penelope had been only 32 light-years from Earth (a little more than her husband’s return), even in her spaceship with the most sensitive telescope today, she could not identify Earth as a habitable planet. Although the Earth is brighter at this distance than the fainter galaxies measured by the Hubble Telescope, the Sun emits 10 million times more light than the Earth to the extent JWST is sensitive, it could be found like rabbits on the road blinded by car headlights. I would need to come back Roman space telescope, HabEx or LIFEProjects that remain a reality, but with which it was possible to measure direct light from the atmosphere of nearby small planets in an orbit similar to the Earth’s orbit around the Sun.

Eva Villaver She is a researcher at the Center for Astrobiology and is dependent on the High Council for Scientific Research and the National Institute of Aeronautical Technology (CAB / CSIC-INTA).

Cosmic Void It is the part in which our knowledge of the universe is presented in a qualitative and quantitative way. The intention is to explain the importance of understanding the universe not only from a scientific point of view, but also from a philosophical, social and economic point of view. The name “cosmic vacuum” refers to the fact that the universe is and is largely empty, with less than 1 atom per cubic meter, despite the fact that, paradoxically, there are a quintillion atoms per cubic meter in our environment that invites us to think. over our existence and the presence of life in the universe. The section is made up Pablo G. Pérez González, researcher at the Center for Astrobiology; Patricia Sánchez Blázquez, Professor at Complutense University of Madrid (UCM); Y Eva Villaver, researcher at the Center for Astrobiology.

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