Monday, January 25, 2016

Is Carbon monoxide Detection in an ExoPlanetary Atmosphere an 'Anti-biosignature?'

On the detection of carbon monoxide as an anti-biosignature in exoplanetary atmospheres


Wang et al


Recent works suggest that oxygen can be maintained on lifeless exoplanets in the habitable zones of M dwarfs as the results of photochemical reactions. However, the same photochemical models also predict high concentrations of carbon monoxide (CO) in the corresponding atmospheres. Here we use a line-by-line radiative transfer model to investigate the observation requirements of O2 and CO in such atmospheres. The results show that photochemically produced CO can be readily detected at 1.58, 2.34, and 4.67 μm. We suggest that future missions aiming at characterization of exoplanetary atmospheres consider detections of CO as an anti-biosignature.

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