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DIX Planetary Science Seminar

Tuesday, October 18, 2022
4:00pm to 5:00pm
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Arms 155 (Robert P. Sharp Lecture Hall)
A multi-parameter approach to planetary habitability
Sarah McIntyre, Graduate Student, Research School of Astronomy & Astrophysics, The Australian National University,

Upcoming telescopes will be able to remotely detect potential biosignatures in exoplanet atmospheres and discover signs of life beyond our Solar System. To make the most of the limited observational resources available, target selection has focused on ‘habitable worlds' defined as rocky bodies orbiting their host stars at a distance where stellar radiation is suitable for the presence of surface liquid water and enough surface gravity to sustain an atmosphere. With the ever-increasing number of detected exoplanets, we might end up with hundreds of planets that suit these criteria and are accordingly all equally likely to host life. Therefore, we must rethink our classification of what makes a planet habitable. Expanding to a multi-parameter approach to habitability by including factors such as magnetic field, plate tectonics, albedo, stellar type, orbit characteristics, tidal locking, and surface pressure will enable us to prioritise planets that are most likely to maintain liquid water. Analysing, modelling, and constraining how these factors interact on any given planetary body will enable us to determine optimal targets for near-future ground- and space-based observations of planetary atmospheres and surfaces.

For more information, please contact Ryleigh Davis by email at [email protected].