High Temperature Volcanism on Earth: Physical Volcanology, Mineralogy, and Geochemistry of Archean Komatiites

Komatiites are magnesium-rich magmas characterized by very high temperature (up to 1640°C vs. ~1200°C for modern basalts), very low viscosity (0.1-1 Pa·s), and a very large interval (460-160°C) between liquidus and solidus. As a consequence, they formed highly mobile flows capable of flowing long distances over gentle slopes that - if channelized - thermally and thermomechanically eroded wallrocks and substrates. This led to the formation of some of the world’s richest nickel-copper-platinum group element deposits.

Pinpointing the Search for Life in Ancient Martian Hot Springs

The recent explosion of Martian surface data is set to revolutionize the way we explore that planet. Until now, mission science has had to catch up with the imposed engineering constraints. With this data, we can plan exciting new missions to specific locations with enough precision to allow engineers to get us there safely. One of the most appealing uses of this methodology is the search for evidence that life once existed on Mars. Here we discuss the developing effort to send a mission to search for life in an ancient hot spring deposit.

Power laws, predictable evolution, and the limits of life

A central question in understanding the possibilities for life in the universe is what fundamental constraints and tradeoffs organize evolution. In this talk Dr. Kempes will discuss how power-laws in biology highlight common underlying constraints––often basic physical laws––across the diversity of life on our planet. He will then describe how work that we have done shows how these relationships can be derived and used to predict or interpret a range of phenomena including major evolutionary tradeoffs and ecological response. Specifically, Dr.

Checking on the Neighbors: Searching for Planets around Alpha Centauri

The alpha Centauri system - our next door neighbor in space - represents a very attractive target for exoplanet searches. Owing to its proximity, a planet found around any of the three stars in the system would be an ideal target for detailed follow-up studies with next generation ground- and space-based telescopes. In this talk Dr Endl will review past and current planet search efforts that targeted the alpha Centauri system. He will focus on his team's program, an intensive multi-year observing campaign carried out at Mt John University Observatory in New Zealand.

Are Old Galaxies Really Red and Dead?

Galaxies are broadly divided into two classes: spiral and elliptical. Unlike the spirals, the ellipticals, often referred to as early-type galaxies, are largely composed of old stars that give them a reddish color, They typically have little interstellar material with which to form new stars; these galaxies are often referred to as “red and dead.” We will see, however, that a substantial fraction of these galaxies contain surprising amounts of neutral hydrogen and these do form stars, albeit at a reduced rate compared to their spiral cousins.

Astrochemistry: putting the astro in astrobiology

Astrobiology, the study of emergence of life and the its distribution in the Universe, addresses the most fundamental questions in science: "How does life begin ?" and "Are we alone ?" Over the last 20 years, we have discovered that planets are bountiful in the galaxy and that one in every five solar-type stars has a planet in the habitable zone. We have learned that extremophiles have spread to essential every niche – even the seemingly most inhospitable ones – on our planet.

Earth-Sized Planets in the Habitable Zones of Cool Stars

illustration of surface of Kepler-186fAbstract: A primary goal of the Kepler mission is to determine the frequency of Earth-sized planets in the habitable zones of other stars. M dwarfs, stars that are smaller and cooler than the Sun, comprise more than 70% of the stars in our galaxy. Finding that Earth-sized planets around M dwarfs are common, therefore, has big implications for determining the frequency of other Earths.

Why SuperEarths are not Earthlike

Kepler data indicate that there are many planets that could be Earthlike in the sense of having a similar bulk composition. I will explain why such planets are unlikely to be Earthlike in other respects, especially if they are superEarths (three or so Earth masses or more). There are three main points here: (1) SuperEarths will not separate core from mantle because they are likely to be so hot internally that the critical temperature is reached for miscibility of iron alloy and silicate material.


Subscribe to RSS - Astrobiology