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When will Alien Life be Found on Exoplanets?



How long will it be before we find alien life on exoplanets? Exoplanet astronomer Dr. Ryan MacDonald explains how biosignatures can be found in exoplanet atmospheres. He also reveals how the discovery of the first close-in planet around a white dwarf could dramatically accelerate the hunt for alien life beyond the solar system with the James Webb Space Telescope.

***** Chapters *****

0:00 – Introduction
1:15 – Worlds Beyond Earth
2:26 – Early Exoplanet Discoveries
4:10 – Transiting Exoplanets
5:26 – Transmission Spectroscopy
6:24 – Exoplanet Atmospheres
9:15 – The James Webb Space Telescope
10:33 – Signatures of Life on Earth
14:57 – Exoplanet Biosignatures
16:34 – The Small Star Opportunity
17:52 – Case Study: TRAPPIST-1
19:44 – When Stars Die
20:51 – White Dwarfs
22:27 – The Discovery of WD 1856b
24:04 – Earth-like Planets Around White dwarfs
25:10 – The White Dwarf Opportunity

***** Animations and media *****

Most animations and graphics used here were produced by NASA, ESA, and ESO. Special thanks to Jack Madden for producing the renders of an Earth-like planet around a white dwarf.

***** Music *****

All credit to Aakash Gandhi for creating the two inspirational tracks included in this video and for releasing them into the public domain.

—– Further information —–

● ‘Revealing the Nature of Exoplanetary Atmospheres’ (my PhD thesis):
https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/297844

● ‘The Astrobiology Primer v2.0’:
https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/full/10.1089/ast.2015.1460

● ‘How to Characterize Habitable Worlds and Signs of Life’:
https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev-astro-082214-122238
(free open access): https://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/1911/1911.05597.pdf

● ‘Exoplanet Biosignatures: A Review of Remotely Detectable Signs of Life’:
https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/ast.2017.1729

● ‘The White Dwarf Opportunity: Robust Detections of Molecules in Earth-like Exoplanet Atmospheres with the James Webb Space Telescope’:
https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.3847/2041-8213/aba9d3
(free open access): https://arxiv.org/pdf/2009.07274.pdf

● ‘A giant planet candidate transiting a white dwarf’:
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-020-2713-y
(free open access): https://arxiv.org/pdf/2009.07282.pdf

● ‘Atmospheric Retrieval of Exoplanets’ (Martian Colonist video):

#Exoplanet #AlienLife #JWST

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