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  • University of Washington Astronomy Department
    exoplanets or worlds beyond the solar system by looking for a certain type of molecule And if there is life out in space scientists may one day use this same technique to detect its biosignature the telltale chemical signs of its presence in the atmosphere of an alien world The method devised by Amit Misra a UW astronomy doctoral student and co authors involves computer simulations of the chemistry of Earth s own atmosphere that isolate what are called dimer molecules pairs of molecules that tend to form at high pressures and densities in a planet s atmosphere UW astronomer Eric Agol s seven planet system part of major NASA discovery University of Washington astronomer Eric Agol played a key role in the windfall of 715 new exoplanets announced by NASA Feb 26 Agol was on a team that found seven of those worlds all in orbit around the same star Kepler 90 It s the first planetary system with seven planets seen to transit or cross in front of their host star Astronomers solve temperature mystery of planetary atmospheres University of Washington UW researchers Tyler Robinson and David Catling have found an atmospheric peculiarity Earth shares with Jupiter Saturn Uranus and Neptune is likely common to billions of planets and knowing that may help in the search of potentially habitable worlds Earth and other solar system worlds have a tropopause or level where the atmosphere stops cooling and begins heating up at or near 0 1 bars Using an analytic model Robinson and Catling show that at high altitudes atmospheres become transparent to thermal radiation due to the low pressure Above the level where the pressure is about 0 1 bar the absorption of visible or ultraviolet light causes the atmospheres of the giant planets and Earth and Titan

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  • University of Washington Astronomy Department

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