Paper I of the LIFE paper series accepted for publication
The first paper in the LIFE paper series was recently accepted for publication in A&A (link to arxiv)! Quanz et al. introduce the LIFE initiative and the motivation behind it and perform detection yield estimates for different scenarios and instrument parameters. This is the first time that a proper nulling interferometry simulator is coupled with the statistical exoplanet occurrence rates as derived by the Kepler mission. We compare the expected detection yield of LIFE with that of future reflected light missions as foreseen by NASA (top figure below), investigate what kinds of planets LIFE will have access to (middle figure), and compare the discovery space to the properties of known exoplanets within 10 pc from the Sun (bottom figure). We conclude that LIFE – with reasonable assumptions about its performance – is very much competitive with large-scale reflected light missions in terms of detection yield, but it even provides key advantages such as access to a broader range of absorption bands in exoplanet atmospheres, direct estimates of exoplanet radii and temperatures, and the possibility to observe a number of already known, rocky exoplanets.