LIFE XII paper accepted in AJ: Sniffing Capstone Biosignatures in the MIR

LIFE paper XII – “The Detectability of Capstone Biosignatures in the Mid-Infrared — Sniffing Exoplanetary Laughing Gas and Methylated Halogens”,  is accepted for publication in AJ and available on arXiv as of today.

We hope that there is a little bit for everyone in this:

  • a detailed review how these biospheres could form and why these are particularly well suited biosignature gases (spoiler: no equilibrium sources)
  • an analysis how many rocky terrestrial targets we would have available and how far away (spoiler: dozens, usually around 5pc for M and 8 pc for FGK)
  • simulated observations for many combinations of host stars and observation time (spoiler: detectable for most cases examined in less than ~50 days)
  • a sanity check comparing direct spectral SNR with full retrievals (spoiler: it seems to be consistent)
  • a comparison of different LIFE setups to constrain science requirements (spoiler: bigger is better)
Detectability of various fluxes of N2O in the emission spectrum of an Earth-like planet around Proxima Centauri at its original distance, after only 1 day of observation with LIFE. Planet flux for atmospheres with and without N2O . The grey area represents the 1-σ sensitivity; the dark grey error bars show an individual simulated observation.