Planets Around Other Stars: Exploring Habitability and Spectral Signatures

Presenter: Victoria Meadows, University of Washington
When: January 23, 2007 2:30PM PST

The search for life outside our Solar System will be undertaken using
remote-sensing techniques to understand the spectroscopic properties of
extrasolar planets. To improve our ability to interpret what we might find,
the Virtual Planetary Laboratory NAI Alumni team uses realistic stellar
spectra and generalized planetary climate-chemistry models to explore the
effect of different stellar energy distributions on the atmospheric
photochemistry and resultant spectra of Earth-like planets.

In this presentation I will review results to date on the effects on
atmospheric photochemistry, planetary habitability and the detectability of
biosignatures for planetary host stars of different spectral type and UV
activity levels. I will also highlight new modeling results relevant to
photosynthesis in extrasolar planet environments, and attempts to generate
“false positive” signatures of atmospheric oxygen, using high incident
stellar UV radiation and model planets with dense carbon dioxide
atmospheres.

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