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Thread: Astrobiological papers from Arvix and everywhere

  1. #61
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    Living near the galactic core is very very VERY bad for you. It is a reasonable assumption, based on this paper, that no one lives there anymore, if anyone ever did.


    https://arxiv.org/abs/1902.07950

    Comparative analysis of the influence of Sgr A* and nearby active galactic nuclei on the mass loss of known exoplanets

    Agata M. Wisłocka, Andjelka B. Kovačević, Amedeo Balbi (Submitted on 21 Feb 2019)

    The detailed evolution of exoplanetary atmospheres has been the subject of decade-long studies. Only recently, investigations began on the possible atmospheric mass loss caused by the activity of galactic central engines. This question has so far been explored without using available exoplanet data. The goal of this paper is to improve our knowledge of the erosion of exoplanetary atmospheres through radiation from supermassive black holes (SMBHs) undergoing an active galactic nucleus (AGN) phase. To this end, we extended the well-known energy-limited mass-loss model to include the case of radiation from AGNs. We set the fraction of incident power ϵ available to heat the atmosphere as either constant (ϵ=0.1 ) or flux dependent (ϵ=ϵ(F XUV ) ). We calculated the possible atmospheric mass loss for 54 known exoplanets (of which 16 are hot Jupiters residing in the Galactic bulge and 38 are Earth-like planets (EPs)) due to radiation from the Milky Way's (MW) central SMBH, Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*), and from a set of 107,220 AGNs generated using the 33,350 AGNs at z<0.5 of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey database. We found that planets in the Galactic bulge might have lost up to several Earth atmospheres in mass during the AGN phase of Sgr A*, while the EPs are at a safe distance from Sgr A* (>7 kpc) and have not undergone any atmospheric erosion in their lifetimes. We also found that the MW EPs might experience a mass loss up to ∼15 times the Mars atmosphere over a period of 50 Myr as the result of exposure to the cumulative extreme-UV flux F XUV from the AGNs up to z=0.5 . In both cases we found that an incorrect choice of ϵ can lead to significant mass loss overestimates.
    There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.
    — Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi (1883)

  2. #62
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    Binary stars might not be such bad places for habitable planets after all. Well, 1-2 times in 352, that is.

    https://arxiv.org/abs/1903.01995

    Enlarging habitable zones around binary stars in hostile environments

    Bethany A. Wootton, Richard J. Parker (Submitted on 5 Mar 2019)

    Habitable zones are regions around stars where large bodies of liquid water can be sustained on a planet or satellite. As many stars form in binary systems with non-zero eccentricity, the habitable zones around the component stars of the binary can overlap and be enlarged when the two stars are at periastron (and less often when the stars are at apastron). We perform N-body simulations of the evolution of dense star-forming regions and show that binary systems where the component stars originally have distinct habitable zones can undergo interactions that push the stars closer together, causing the habitable zones to merge and become enlarged. Occasionally, overlapping habitable zones can occur if the component stars move further apart, but the binary becomes more eccentric. Enlargement of habitable zones happens to 1-2 binaries from an average initial total of 352 in each simulated star-forming region, and demonstrates that dense star-forming regions are not always hostile environments for planet formation and evolution.
    There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.
    — Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi (1883)

  3. #63
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    Maybe aliens use black holes to power their starships. Seriously.

    https://phys.org/news/2019-03-gamma-...s-powered.html

    Gamma ray telescopes could detect starships powered by black hole
    March 7, 2019, Universe Today

    In the course of looking for possible signs of extra-terrestrial intelligence (ETI), scientists have had to do some really outside-of-the-box thinking. Since it is a foregone conclusion that many ETIs would be older and more technologically advanced than humanity, those engaged in the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) have to consider what a more advanced species would be doing. A particularly radical idea is that spacefaring civilizations could harness radiation emitted from black holes (Hawking radiation) to generate power. Building on this, Louis Crane, a mathematician from Kansas State University (KSU), recently authored a study that suggests how surveys using gamma telescopes could find evidence of spacecraft powered by tiny artificial black holes. The study, "Searching for Extraterrestrial Civilizations Using gamma Ray Telescopes," recently appeared online. This is the second paper published by Dr. Crane on the subject, the first of which was co-authored by Shawn Moreland (a physics grad student with KSU) and published in 2009 – titled "Are Black Hole Spacecraft Possible?"
    There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.
    — Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi (1883)

  4. #64
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    Are A-stars good prospects for habitable planets? This papers suggests they might be.

    https://arxiv.org/abs/1903.03706

    Habitable zone predictions and how to test them

    Dorian S. Abbot, et al. (Submitted on 9 Mar 2019)

    The habitable zone (HZ) is the region around a star(s) where standing bodies of water could exist on the surface of a rocky planet. The classical HZ definition makes a number of assumptions common to the Earth, including assuming that the most important greenhouse gases for habitable planets are CO2 and H2O, habitable planets orbit main-sequence stars, and that the carbonate-silicate cycle is a universal process on potentially habitable planets. Here, we discuss these and other predictions for the habitable zone and the observations that are needed to test them. We also, for the first time, argue why A-stars may be interesting HZ prospects. Instead of relying on unverified extrapolations from our Earth, we argue that future habitability studies require first principles approaches where temporal, spatial, physical, chemical, and biological systems are dynamically coupled. We also suggest that next-generation missions are only the beginning of a much more data-filled era in the not-too-distant future, when possibly hundreds to thousands of HZ planets will yield the statistical data we need to go beyond just finding habitable zone planets to actually determining which ones are most likely to exhibit life.
    There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.
    — Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi (1883)

  5. #65
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    A contrarian view on whether high levels of UV radiation from a red dwarf is a bad thing for its planets' biospheres.

    https://arxiv.org/abs/1904.03956

    Lessons from early Earth: UV surface radiation should not limit the habitability of active M star systems

    Jack T. O'Malley-James, Lisa Kaltenegger (Submitted on 8 Apr 2019)

    The closest potentially habitable worlds outside our Solar system orbit a different kind of star than our Sun: smaller red dwarf stars. Such stars can flare frequently, bombarding their planets with biologically damaging high-energy UV radiation, placing planetary atmospheres at risk of erosion and bringing the habitability of these worlds into question. However, the surface UV flux on these worlds is unknown. Here we show the first models of the surface UV environments of the four closest potentially habitable exoplanets: Proxima-b, TRAPPIST-1e, Ross-128b, and LHS-1140b assuming different atmospheric compositions, spanning Earth-analogue to eroded and anoxic atmospheres and compare them to levels for Earth throughout its geological evolution. Even for planet models with eroded and anoxic atmospheres, surface UV radiation remains below early Earth levels, even during flares. Given that the early Earth was inhabited, we show that UV radiation should not be a limiting factor for the habitability of planets orbiting M stars. Our closest neighbouring worlds remain intriguing targets for the search for life beyond our Solar system.
    There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.
    — Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi (1883)

  6. #66
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    Think outside the box when it comes to aliens... like this Earth critter with 45 arms. The artwork is... oh boy.

    https://bgr.com/2019/04/10/cthulhu-f...ature-45-arms/

    Researchers find fossil of ancient creature with 45 arms
    Mike Wehner, April 10th, 2019 at 10:05 PM

    Today’s oceans are full of interesting and bizarre creatures, many of which would seem utterly unfathomable to us if we hadn’t learned of their existence from a young age. Take a starfish, for example. If you hadn’t been taught about them as a child they’d seem otherworldly once you finally saw one. The same is true for long-extinct species that populated ancient Earth. Now, a new discovery reveals the existence of a very, very peculiar creature from Earth’s past, and it’s drawing comparisons to an evil entity from the mind of H.P. Lovecraft.
    There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.
    — Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi (1883)

  7. #67
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    https://www.forbes.com/sites/jamieca.../#76a1b0e362ba

    Alien Life Could Thrive On Four Earth-Like Planets Close To The Solar System, Says Study
    Jamie Carter Apr 11, 2019, 03:00am

    Alien life could be evolving right now on some of the nearest exoplanets to our solar system [Proxima-b, TRAPPIST-1e, Ross-128b, LHS-1140b--REM], claim scientists at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. Their proof is you.

    (see article link above, "Lessons from early Earth: UV surface radiation should not limit the habitability of active M star systems")
    There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.
    — Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi (1883)

  8. #68
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    This is confusing me. Numerous papers are arguing that life can/cannot develop on planets around young active stars. Which is it?

    https://phys.org/news/2019-04-rapid-...res-young.html

    Rapid destruction of Earth-like atmospheres by young stars
    by University of Vienna, 4/24/2019

    The discoveries of thousands of planets orbiting stars outside our solar system has made questions about the potential for life to form on these planets fundamentally important in modern science. Fundamentally important for the habitability of a planet is whether or not it can hold onto an atmosphere, which requires that the atmosphere is not completely lost early in the lifetime of the planet. A new study by researchers based at the University of Vienna and at the Space Research Institute of the ÖAW in Graz has shown that young stars can rapidly destroy the atmospheres of potentially-habitable Earth-like planets, which is a significant additional difficulty for the formation of life outside our solar system. The results will appear soon in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics Letters.

    ...Researchers based at the University of Vienna and the Space Research Institute of the ÖAW in Graz have calculated for the first time how rapidly an Earth-like atmosphere would be lost from a planet orbiting a very active young star. Their calculations have shown that extreme hydrodynamic losses of the atmosphere would take place, leading to an Earth-like atmosphere being entirely lost, in less than one million years, which for the evolution of a planet is almost instantaneous.
    There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.
    — Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi (1883)

  9. #69
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    Here's a biological twist from the Pacific Ocean.

    https://phys.org/news/2019-05-arseni...fic-ocean.html

    Arsenic-breathing life discovered in the tropical Pacific Ocean
    by Hannah Hickey, University of Washington

    Arsenic is a deadly poison for most living things, but new research shows that microorganisms are breathing arsenic in a large area of the Pacific Ocean. A University of Washington team has discovered that an ancient survival strategy is still being used in low-oxygen parts of the marine environment.
    There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.
    — Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi (1883)

  10. #70
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    A great resource for anyone interested in SETI.

    https://arxiv.org/abs/1905.03225

    SETI in Russia, USSR and the post-Soviet space: a century of research

    Lev M. Gindilis, Leonid I. Gurvits (Submitted on 7 May 2019)

    Studies on extraterrestrial civilisations in Russia date back to the end of the 19th century. The modern period of SETI studies began in the USSR in the early 1960s. The first edition of the I.S. Shklovsky's book {\it Universe, Life, Intelligence} published in 1962 was a founding stone of SETI research in the USSR. A number of observational projects in radio and optical domains were conducted in the 1960s - 1990s. Theoretical studies focused on defining optimal spectral domains for search of artificial electromagnetic signals, selection of celestial targets in search for ETI, optimal methods for encoding and decoding of interstellar messages, estimating the magnitude of astro-engineering activity of ETI, and developing philosophical background of the SETI problem. Later, in the 1990s and in the first two decades of the 21st century, in spite of acute underfunding and other problems facing the scientific community in Russia and other countries of the former Soviet Union, SETI-oriented research continued. In particular, SETI collaborations conducted a number of surveys of Sun-like stars in the Milky Way, searched for Dyson spheres and artificial optical signals. Several space broadcasting programs were conducted too, including a radio transmission toward selected stars. Serious rethinking was given to incentives for passive and active participation of space civilisations in SETI and CETI. This paper gives an overview of past SETI activities. It also gives a comprehensive list of publications by authors from Russia, the Soviet Union and the post-Soviet space, as well as some SETI publications by other authors. The rich heritage of SETI research presented in the paper might offer a potentially useful background and starting point for developing strategy and specific research programs of the near future.
    There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.
    — Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi (1883)

  11. #71
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    Could another civilization signal to us using a neutrino "laser"?

    https://arxiv.org/abs/1905.05184

    A Neutrino Beacon

    A.A. Jackson (Submitted on 13 May 2019)

    Observational SETI has concentrated on using electromagnetism as the carrier, namely radio waves and laser radiation. Michael Hippke [2] has pointed out that it may be possible to use neutrinos or gravitational waves as signals. Gravitational waves demand the command of the generation of very large scale amounts of energy, Jackson and Benford [3]. This paper describes a beacon that uses beamed neutrinos as the signal. Neutrinos, like gravitational waves, have the advantage of extremely low extinction in the interstellar medium. To make use of neutrinos an advanced civilization can use a gravitational lens as a focus and amplifier. The lens can be a neutron star or a black hole. Using wave optics one can calculate the advantage of gravitational lensing for amplification of a beam and along the optical axis it is exceptionally large. Even though the amplification is very large the dimeter of the beam is quite small, less that a centimeter. This implies that a large constellation of neutrino transmitters would have to enclose the local neutron star or black hole to cover the sky. This means that such a beacon would have to be built by a Kardashev Type II civilization.
    There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.
    — Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi (1883)

  12. #72
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    Does Titan have life on it? Forbes magazine takes a closer look. Nice illos.

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/jamieca.../#b0f1664f1a6a
    There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.
    — Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi (1883)

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