Searching for Potential Life on Exoplanets

Topics: Solar System, Planet, Extrasolar planet Pages: 3 (887 words) Published: February 9, 2013
1. Searching for potential life on exoplanets

Despite the rapid improvement in technology the past few years, the current technology is not capable of yielding a completely successful mission that would travel to other stars and search for habitable exoplanets. Fortunately, the number of solar systems and exoplanets discovered is increasing. Direct images received from those exoplanets have a very low resolution but provide plenty of useful information. This essay will examine how this information when compared to the figures of Earth can offer a hint on which exoplanets might be habitable and have potential life.

The astronomical definition of a habitable world is a place that has liquid water, or maybe just any form of liquid since different living organisms might not necessarily require water to survive. However, it takes more than liquid itself for life to exist. The following also play an important role in the existence of life: size, mass, gravity, magnetic field, atmosphere, minerals, chemicals, temperatures, soil, land, distance from star, type of star and distance our solar system.

We can get an exoplanet’s mass by measuring its gravity and then find its density. Density shows what the world is made of. The Earth has a mantle made of rock and a solid core made of iron. In addition, we can estimate how the material is factored with the help of the moment of inertia factor. Every material has a rotating body that accelerates and decelerates. The speed depends on how the mass is distributed within in the body. Smaller numbers means that the mass is concentrated more and more at the center. Earth is not a uniform shape and most of its mass is concentrated at the center.

Gravity can also be an indication of what molecules are held on a planet. The Earth has enough gravity that can hold oxygen, water, methane, ammonia, nitrogen and carbon dioxide. Earth can’t hold onto helium and hydrogen at Earth’s temperature they are moving too fast. Holding on...
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