A habitable exoplanet is a world that can maintain stable liquid water on its surface. Techniques and approaches to characterizing such worlds are essential, as performing a census of Earthlike planets that may or may not have life will inform our understanding of how frequently life originates and is sustained on worlds other than our own. Observational techniques like high-contrast imaging and transit spectroscopy can reveal key indicators of habitability for exoplanets. Both polarization measurements and specular reflectance from oceans (also known as "glint") can provide direct evidence for surface liquid water, while constraining surface pressure and temperature (frommoderate resolution spectra) can indicate liquid water stability. Indirect evidence for habitability can come from a variety of sources, including observations of variability due to weather, surface mapping studies, and/or measurements of water vapor or cloud profiles that indicate condensation near a surface. Approaches to making the types of measurements that indicate habitability are diverse and have different considerations for the required wavelength range, spectral resolution, maximum noise levels, stellar host temperature, and observing geometry.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy(all)
- Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)