PAOC Spotlights

In the search for Earthlike exoplanets, GJ 436b has much to tell us...

Thu October 7th, 2010
MIT News Office - Morgan Bettex

Professor Sara Seager and postdoctoral researcher Nikku Madhusudhan have recently completed the first detailed analysis of the atmosphere of a Neptune-sized planet revealing surprisingly low methane levels. In an article explaining how this presents "new territory" for researching planets outside our solar system, Seager speaks with MIT News.

Although we have yet to find an exoplanet, or planet outside our solar system, that is small and cool enough to resemble Earth and possibly host life, planetary scientists say it could happen within the next decade. They are preparing for that possibility by learning as much as they can about the atmospheres of progressively smaller exoplanets that can be thought of as stepping stones on the path to discovering — and making sense of — an Earth twin.