During a conference, a French scholar, Thomas J. Montreal, March 15, 2023.
Dr. Fuchez explains how NASA specialists can detect biosignatures around Earth-sized exoplanets and compare them to those known on our planet. His interest in this subject stems from the convergence between his Earth science training and his astrophysics training. Using models to predict observations of the atmospheres of exoplanets, compared to Earth’s, is an area of comparative planetary science that has taken off dramatically with the technical capabilities of space telescopes. The field of work is broad with more than 5,000 exoplanets discovered and confirmed over 25 years. However, only 4% are extraterrestrials (Telluric and in the habitable zone).
The most interesting candidates are found in the outer solar system Trappist-1, Proxima-b and Wolf 1069b. So it’s not surprising that 25% of the James Webb telescope’s scheduled observation time is spent on exoplanets.
The challenges are enormous because processing 3D data is computationally intensive. Unexpected elements can be revealed in the study of spectra of the atmosphere. Then the study, which is compared with the spectrum of Earth’s atmosphere, becomes essential in validating extraterrestrial biosignatures. It is also necessary to distinguish elements that appear in the spectrum of purely chemical or geological and non-biological origin.
Several questions from the audience lead the speaker to explain how to use Coronagraphy, which aims to filter out starlight from an outer solar system, could help monitor hard-to-detect exoplanets. It is assumed that searches will be more successful in stars with a spectral type K, or 15% of stars.
Present at the conference, renowned professor from the University of Montreal, Rene Doyon, adds that the NIRISS instrument, integrated into the James Webb telescope, will help find spectra of light from exoplanet atmospheres and their potential biosignatures. Data modeling should help process it and explain the anomalies that are detected. When we look at where, barely a few years ago, the study of the composition of the atmospheres of exoplanets was located, we see that gigantic strides are being made. Exploration has just begun.
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