The Earth as a Distant Planet: A Rosetta Stone for the Search of Earth-Like Worlds / Edition 1

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Overview

In The Earth as a Distant Planet, the authors become external observers of our solar system from a distance and try to determine how one can understand how Earth, the third in distance to the central star, is essentially unique and capable of sustaining life. The knowledge gained from this original perspective is then applied to the search for other planets outside the solar system, or exoplanets.

Since the discovery in 1992 of the first exoplanet, the number of planet detections has increased exponentially and ambitious missions are already being planned for the future. The exploration of Earth and the rest of the rocky planets are Rosetta stones in classifying and understanding the multiplicity of planetary systems that exist in our galaxy. In time, statistics on the formation and evolution of exoplanets will be available and will provide vital information for solving some of the unanswered questions about the formation, as well as evolution of our own world and solar system. Special attention is paid to the biosignatures (signs of life) detectable in the Earth's reflected spectra and the search for life in the universe.

The authors are experts on the subject of extrasolar planets. They provide an introductory but also very much up-to-date text, making this book suitable for researchers and for advanced students in astronomy and astrophysics.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
From the reviews:

“This very up-to-date book stresses the importance that future studies of the Earth will bring to our quest to discover life around extrasolar planets. … The book is also an excellent reference source for researchers interested in detailed summary descriptions of the Earth and its role in the search for extraterrestrial life and other planets. Includes striking color pictures, graphs, and figures; extensive end-of-chapter references; a list of acronyms and units; and a four-page index. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through professionals; general audiences.” (W. E. Howard III, Choice, Vol. 48 (3), November, 2010)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781441916839
  • Publisher: Springer New York
  • Publication date: 2/13/2010
  • Series: Astronomy and Astrophysics Library Series
  • Edition description: 2010
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 422
  • Sales rank: 993,600
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

The authors are researchers at the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias. M. Vázquez is also author of Ultraviolet Radiation in the Solar System and The Sun Recorded Through History.

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Table of Contents

1 Observing the Earth 1

1.1 The Exploration of Our Planet 1

1.2 First Observations of Our Planet from the Air 7

1.2.1 Early Balloon Pictures 7

1.2.2 The Space Research 9

1.3 The Earth-Moon System 20

1.4 The Solar System 21

1.4.1 General Characteristics 22

1.4.2 A View from the Edge 23

1.4.3 Our Environment 25

References 31

2 The Earth in Time 35

2.1 The Earth at the Present Time 38

2.1.1 The Interior 39

2.1.2 Plate Tectonics 44

2.1.3 The Atmosphere 47

2.1.4 Energy Balance of the Atmosphere 50

2.2 The Precambrian Era (4,500–4,550 Ma BP) 54

2.2.1 The Formation of the Earth: The Hadean Era 55

2.2.2 The Archaean and Proterozoic Times 63

2.3 The Phanerozoic Era 78

2.3.1 The Drift, Breakup and Assembly of the Continents 80

2.3.2 Supereruptions and Hot Spots 81

2.3.3 The Connection Temperature-Greenhouse Gases 82

2.3.4 Temporal Variations of the Magnetic Field 84

2.3.5 Mass Extinctions in the Fossil Record 85

2.4 The Quaternary 89

2.4.1 he Ice Ages 90

2.4.2 The Present Warming: The Anthropocene 91

2.5 The Future of Earth 94

2.5.1 The End of Life 94

2.5.2 The End of the Earth 95

References 96

3 The Pale Blue Dot 107

3.1 Globally Integrated Observations of the Earth 107

3.1.1 Earth Orbiting Satellites 108

3.1.2 Observations from Long-range Spacecrafts 111

3.1.3 An Indirect View of the Earth: Earthshine 112

3.2 The Earth's Photometric Variability in Reflected Light 116

3.2.1 Observational Data 117

3.2.2 Reflectance Models 121

3.2.3 The Earth's Light Curves 123

3.2.4 The Rotational Period 124

3.2.5 Cloudiness and Apparent Rotation 127

3.2.6 Glint Scattering 128

3.3 Earth's Infrared Photometry 131

3.4 Spectroscopy of Planet Earth 134

3.4.1 The Visible Spectrum 135

3.4.2 The Infrared Spectrum 137

3.4.3 The Earth's Transmission Spectrum 139

3.5 Polarimetry of Planet Earth 143

3.5.1 Linear Polarization 143

3.5.2 Circular Polarization 145

References 146

4 The Outer Layers of the Earth 151

4.1 Temperature Profile and the Energy Balance 151

4.2 Stratosphere: The Ozone Layer 156

4.2.1 Natural Processes of Ozone Formation and Destruction 158

4.3 Mesosphere 160

4.4 The Thermosphere 161

4.5 The Exosphere: Geocorona 162

4.6 Airglow 64

4.6.1 Nightglow 166

4.6.2 Dayglow 169

4.6.3 Twilight Airglow 170

4.7 The Ionosphere 171

4.7.1 General Structure 172

4.7.2 Ionosphere Indicators 176

4.7.3 Lightnings 178

4.8 The Magnetosphere 179

4.8.1 Description 179

4.8.2 Radiation Belts 180

4.8.3 Aurorae 182

4.9 Radio Emission of the Earth and Other Planets 183

4.10 The Earth in X-Rays 186

4.11 The Earth's Gamma Ray Emission 187

4.12 The Outer Layers of the Early Earth 188

References 190

5 Biosignatures and the Search for Life on Earth 197

5.1 The Physical Concept of Life 197

5.2 Astrobiology: New Perspectives for an Old Question 200

5.3 Requirements for Life 201

5.3.1 Biogenic Elements 201

5.3.2 A Solvent: Water 202

5.3.3 Energy Source 205

5.4 Biosignatures on Present Earth 209

5.4.1 Spectral Biosignatures in the Atmosphere 209

5.4.2 Chlorophyll and Other Spectral Biosignatures of the Planetary Surface: The Red Edge 213

5.4.3 Chirality and Polarization as Biosignatures 222

5.5 Biosignatures on Early-Earth 223

5.6 Life in the Universe 225

5.6.1 Circumstellar Habitable Zone 225

5.6.2 Additional Constraints for Habitability 232

5.6.3 Galactic Habitable Zone 234

5.7 Signatures of Technological Civilizations 235

5.7.1 Night Lights 236

5.7.2 Spectral Features 238

5.7.3 Artificial Radioemission 239

5.7.4 Nuclear Explosions 241

5.7.5 Extraterrestrial Pulses 243

References 243

6 Detecting Extrasolar Earth-like Planets 251

6.1 First Attempts to Discover Exoplanets 251

6.2 The Mass Limit: From Brown Dwarfs to Giant Planets 253

6.2.1 The Brown Dwarf Desert 258

6.3 The Detection of Earth-like Planets: A Complex Problem 258

6.3.1 Brightness Ratio 258

6.3.2 Angular Distance 260

6.4 Methods for the Detection of Exoplanets 261

6.4.1 Indirect Detection of Exoplanets 263

6.4.2 Direct Observations of Exoplanets 275

6.5 The Next 20 Years 280

References 281

7 The Worlds Out There 289

7.1 Definition of a Planet 289

7.2 Our Solar System 291

7.2.1 General Facts 291

7.2.2 Chemical Abundances in the Solar System 292

7.2.3 Giant Planets 293

7.2.4 Terrestrial Planets 294

7.2.5 Dwarf Planets and Other Minor Bodies 295

7.3 Planetary Atmospheres 299

7.4 Statistical Properties of the Extrasolar Giant Planets 302

7.4.1 Mass Distribution 302

7.4.2 Hot Jupiters 302

7.4.3 Eccentric Planets 305

7.4.4 Role of the Metallicity 305

7.4.5 Stellar Masses 306

7.5 Types of Terrestrial Planets 307

7.5.1 Rocky Planets 308

7.5.2 Super-Earths 309

7.5.3 Carbon–Oxygen Ratio: The Carbon Planets 314

7.5.4 Super-Mercuries 315

7.5.5 Planets Around Pulsars in Metal-Poor Environments 317

7.5.6 Terrestrial Planets Around Giant Planets: The Rocky Moons 317

7.5.7 Free-Floating Planets 318

7.6 Characterization of Exoplanets 319

7.6.1 Mass-Radius Relationships 319

7.6.2 Atmospheres of Exoplanets 322

7.6.3 Radio Emission of Exoplanets 326

7.7 Terraformed Planets 326

7.8 Expect the Unexpected 327

References 328

8 Extrasolar Planetary Systems 337

8.1 The Origin of the Solar System: Early Attempts 337

8.1.1 Nebular Theory 337

8.1.2 Catastrophic Theories 339

8.2 Formation of Planetary Systems 340

8.2.1 Stellar Formation 340

8.2.2 The Early Accretion Phase 342

8.2.3 The Protoplanetary and Debris Disks 343

8.2.4 Formation of Giant Planets 346

8.2.5 Formation of Terrestrial Planets 348

8.3 Planetary Orbits 350

8.3.1 Basic Orbital Elements 350

8.3.2 Keplerian Orbits 352

8.3.3 Harmony and Chaos 355

8.3.4 Relevant Parameters of Dynamical Stability 358

8.3.5 Resonances in Planetary Systems 360

8.3.6 Lagrangian Points 363

8.4 The Dynamically Habitable Zone 364

8.5 Architecture of Planetary Systems 367

8.5.1 Systems with Hot Jupiters: The Planetary Migration 369

8.5.2 Binary Systems 376

8.5.3 Multiple Planetary Systems 377

8.6 Violence and Harmony 383

References 383

9 Is Our Environment Special? 391

9.1 Is the Sun Anomalous? 392

9.1.1 Singularity 392

9.1.2 Mass 393

9.1.3 Location 394

9.1.4 Age 395

9.1.5 Chemical Composition: Metallicity 396

9.1.6 Magnetic Activity 397

9.1.7 Solar Analogs 399

9.2 Is the Solar System Unique? 400

9.2.1 Nature vs. Nurture 400

9.2.2 Debris Disks 405

9.2.3 The Energetic Environment 406

9.2.4 Solar System Analogs 407

9.3 Is the Earth Something Special? 408

9.3.1 Habitability 408

9.3.2 Variations of Orbital Parameters 409

9.3.3 Preserve of a Large Satellite 410

9.4 The Ultimate Factor: Life 412

References 413

Index 419

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