Extrasolar Planets and Astrobiology

Caleb A. Scharf

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Format: Hardback

Publication date: October 31, 2008

Pages: 470 pages

ISBN: 9781891389559 Related titles:


This book offers an advanced introduction to the increasingly robust fields of extrasolar planets and astrobiology. No other text currently available applies this level of mathematics and physics, while also providing an extensive grounding in key issues of chemistry, biology, and geophysics. With extensive references to the literature and chapter-ending exercises, this book can be used as the core text for teaching undergraduate or introductory graduate level courses. The text will also provide astrobiologists with an indispensable “User’s Manual” when quick reference to key mathematical and physical techniques is needed. A continually updated online component, fully cross referenced with the text, is also available. Foreword by Geoff Marcy.


  • Over 150 images and illustrations
  • Extensive bibliographies for each chapters
  • Exercises for each chapter, ranging from straightforward calculation problems to more far-ranging research-oriented exercises
  • An online component for users that includes new exercises and a continually updated blog of exciting scientific news items, fully cross-referenced with the book to allow course instructors to integrate the most recent developments into their course material

Chapter 1: Introduction, Background, and Preview
1.1 Introduction
1.2 Preview

Chapter 2: Star formation and proto-stellar collapse
2.1 Introduction
2.2 A brief cosmography
2.3 Observed proto-stellar structures
2.4 Proto-stellar collapse
2.5 Outside-in versus inside-out star formation
2.6 Triggering collapse
2.7 Angular Momentum in Collapse
2.8 Orbital Basics
2.9 Disk Evolution
2.10 Binary and multiple star systems
2.11 Brown dwarfs to planets

Chapter 3: Planet Formation
3.1 Introduction
3.2 Planet classes and formation scenarios
3.3 Coagulation of solids
3.4 Stages of growth
3.5 The rate of formation as a function of position
3.6 Planetesimal and Proto-planet migration
3.7 Final stages of planet formation
3.8 Planet formation summary

Chapter 4: Exoplanets
4.1 Introduction
4.2 Indirect Planet Detection
4.3 Direct Planet Detection and Imaging

Chapter 5: Life: a brief history, and its boundaries
5.1 Introduction
5.2 Two histories
5.3 What is terrestrial life?
5.4 The history of life on Earth
5.5 Boundary conditions and habitability
5.6 Deep Life

Chapter 6: Planetary radiation, comparative planetology, biosignatures, and Daisyworld
6.1 Introduction
6.2 The reflectivity of a planet: albedo
6.3 The thermal characteristics of a planet
6.4 Interpreting reflected light from planets
6.5 Total observed flux6 Comparative Planetology
6.7 The impact of life: biosignatures
6.8 Daisyworld
6.9 Introducing the daisies
6.10 Variations
6.11 Concluding thoughts

Chapter 7: Cosmochemistry, dust, and prebiotic molecules
7.1 Introduction
7.2 Elements and materials
7.3 The origin of dust
7.4 The Circumstellar Medium
7.5 Nucleation
7.6 Dust or molecule?
7.7 Formation of complex molecules

Chapter 8: Comets, meteorites, and proto-planetary disk structure
8.1 Introduction
8.2 Comets
8.3 Meteorites
8.4 Late time impactors and early Earth chemistry
8.5 Chemistry of the proto-planetary disk

Chapter 9: Habitable Zones
9.1 Introduction
9.2 The classical circumstellar habitable zone (CHZ)
9.3 Habitability through time
9.4 Additional factors
9.5 The Galactic Habitable Zone

Chapter 10: Alternate Habitable Zones and Beyond
10.1 Introduction
10.2 Earth: but not as we know it
10.3 Moons
10.4 Elemental constraints on life
10.5 Speculations on the origins of life
10.6 Concluding commentary and cautions

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