Colloquium: Physical constraints for the evolution of life on exoplanets

  title={Colloquium: Physical constraints for the evolution of life on exoplanets},
  author={Manasvi Lingam and Abraham Loeb},
  journal={Reviews of Modern Physics},
  • M. Lingam, A. Loeb
  • Published 3 October 2018
  • Geology, Physics
  • Reviews of Modern Physics
Since the 1990s over 4000 exoplanets have been discovered: which of them could also develop and harbor life? It is posited that the planet must have liquid water, a surrounding atmosphere, and must be both biocompatible and possess the bioessential elements to be habitable. This Colloquium explores what features of the central star are conducive to these requirements with an eye toward optimizing our search for extraterrestrial life. 

Figures and Tables from this paper

Implications of Captured Interstellar Objects for Panspermia and Extraterrestrial Life
We estimate the capture rate of interstellar objects by means of three-body gravitational interactions. We apply this model to the Sun-Jupiter system and the Alpha Centauri A\&B binary system, and
Relative Likelihood of Success in the Search for Primitive versus Intelligent Extraterrestrial Life.
It is suggested that the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) may merit a federal funding level of at least $10 million per year, assuming that the average lifetime of technological species exceeds a millennium.
Prospects for Life on Temperate Planets around Brown Dwarfs
There is growing evidence that brown dwarfs may be comparable to main-sequence stars in terms of their abundance. In this paper, we explore the prospects for the existence of life on Earth-like
Phytoclimatic mapping of exoplanets
  • D. Stevenson
  • Geology, Physics
    International Journal of Astrobiology
  • 2019
Abstract The concept of exoplanetary habitability is evolving. The driving force is a desire to define the biological potential of planets and identify which can host complex and possibly intelligent
Photosynthesis on exoplanets and exomoons from reflected light
Abstract Photosynthesis offers a convenient means of sustaining biospheres. We quantify the constraints for photosynthesis to be functional on the permanent nightside of tidally locked rocky
The Habitability of the Galactic Bulge
Analytical models of the star density in the bulge are used to provide estimates of the rate of catastrophic events and of the diffusion timescales for life over interstellar distances.
Atmospheric Escape From TOI-700 d: Venus versus Earth Analogs
The recent discovery of an Earth-sized planet (TOI-700 d) in the habitable zone of an early-type M-dwarf by the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite constitutes an important advance. In this Letter,
Dependence of Biological Activity on the Surface Water Fraction of Planets
One of the unique features associated with the Earth is that the fraction of its surface covered by land is comparable to that spanned by its oceans and other water bodies. Here, we investigate how
A brief history of the term ‘habitable zone’ in the 19th century
  • M. Lingam
  • Physics
    International Journal of Astrobiology
  • 2021
The appellation ‘habitable zone’ in astrobiology in sooth evinces an overlooked and winding history that can be traced back to the 19th century. This paper sketches how this term from geography was
Photosynthesis on habitable planets around low-mass stars
  • M. Lingam, A. Loeb
  • Physics, Geology
    Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
  • 2019
We show that planets around M-dwarfs with $M_\star \lesssim 0.2 M_\odot$ may not receive enough photons in the photosynthetically active range of $400$-$750$ nm to sustain Earth-like biospheres. As a


Exoplanet Habitability
A new emerging view is that planets very different from Earth may have the right conditions for life, and the broadened possibilities will increase the future chances of discovering an inhabited world.
Physical constraints on the likelihood of life on exoplanets
Abstract One of the most fundamental questions in exoplanetology is to determine whether a given planet is habitable. We estimate the relative likelihood of a planet's propensity towards habitability
Reduced Diversity of Life Around Proxima Centauri and TRAPPIST-1
The recent discovery of potentially habitable exoplanets around Proxima Centauri and TRAPPIST-1 has attracted much attention due to their potential for hosting life. We delineate a simple model that
Subsurface exolife
Abstract We study the prospects for life on planets with subsurface oceans, and find that a wide range of planets can exist in diverse habitats with ice envelopes of moderate thickness. We quantify
Water in Extrasolar Planets and Implications for Habitability
Exoplanet detection missions have found thousands of planets or planet candidates outside of the Solar System—some of which are in the habitable zone, where liquid water is possible at the surface.
Implications of Tides for Life on Exoplanets.
This work identifies the conditions under which tides may exert a significant positive influence on biotic processes including abiogenesis, biological rhythms, nutrient upwelling, and stimulating photosynthesis and identifies large-scale algal blooms as potential temporal biosignatures in reflectance light curves that can arise indirectly as a consequence of strong tidal forces.
Is Proxima Centauri b habitable? -- A study of atmospheric loss
We address the important question of whether the newly discovered exoplanet, Proxima Centauri b (PCb), is capable of retaining an atmosphere over long periods of time. This is done by adapting a
The Occurrence and Architecture of Exoplanetary Systems
The basic geometry of the Solar System—the shapes, spacings, and orientations of the planetary orbits—has long been a subject of fascination as well as inspiration for planet-formation theories. For
Determining habitability: which exoEarths should we search for life?
This work reviews the various planetary, dynamical and stellar influences that could influence the habitability of exoEarths and decides where to focus the first detailed search for life beyond the authors' Solar System.
Habitability: from stars to cells
To determine where to search for life in our solar system or in other extrasolar systems, the concept of habitability has been developed, based on the only sample we have of a biological planet—the