Habitability and Cosmic Catastrophes (Google eBook)

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Springer Science & Business Media, Nov 14, 2008 - Science - 262 pages
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The solar system has a rather well-known history. Looking at the present situation, one might get the impression that it was a rather stable and well-defined system: the orbits of the planets appear to be stable, climate and atmospheres on the planets have been determined, the risk of collision with other bodies (comets, asteroids, meteorites) seems to be small. However it is known today that the evolution of life on Earth was neither a steady progression nor uniform. There were several periods of mass extinction. These catastrophic events played a crucial role in the rise of new species. Events of astrophysical origin include: Asteroid impacts - Major solar variability (space weather) - Nearby supernovae - The passage of the solar system through dense interstellar clouds. Catastrophic cosmic events of this type appear in the range of some 100 million years. The author discusses whether and how such events could have occurred in the solar system as well as in the recently found extrasolar planetary systems. In this text, which addresses readers in the field of Astrophysics and Astrobiology but also Geophysics and Biology these cosmic catastrophic events are described at an intermediate student's level.
  

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Contents

Habitable Zones
1
112 Definitions of Habitable Zones
3
113 HZ and Planetary Atmospheres
6
114 Tidal Locking
7
115 Tidal Heating 1151 Io
11
116 The Galactic Habitable Zone
15
12 The Earth Protector of Life
16
122 The Magnetosphere
19
532 The KT Event
136
533 Controversy about the KT Impact Theory
140
535 Mass Extinctions by Flood Basalt Volcanism
141
54 NEOs
143
542 Orbit Instabilities
144
55 Impact Risk Scale
145
552 Torino Impact Scale
147
553 Palermo Technical Impact Hazard Scale
148

123 Stability of Atmosphere and Magnetosphere
21
13 The Habitable Zone in the Solar System
25
132 Habitable Zone Around Giant Planets
26
Properties and Environments of Life
29
212 Organic Material Around Stars
31
221 What Is Life?
32
223 Cells
37
224 RNABased Life
43
232 Photosynthesis
44
233 Respiration
47
234 Digestion and Assimilation
49
241 Bacteria
50
242 Viruses Viroids and Prions
53
243 The Kingdom Protista
54
Stars and Galaxies
55
313 Main Sequence Lifetime
57
314 Stellar Evolution
58
32 Stellar Evolution and Habitability
61
322 Habitable Zones and Stellar Evolution
62
33 Galaxies
64
332 Galaxies
67
34 The Sun Our Star
70
342 Solar Observations
73
343 The Variable Sun
75
344 Solar Activity Cycles
78
Planetary Systems
80
412 Overview and Formation of the Solar System
82
413 Instable Interstellar Clouds
84
42 Main Objects in the Solar System
88
422 Dwarf Planets
89
423 Comets
90
424 Asteroids
95
425 Small Solar System Bodies and Habitability
97
432 Detection Methods
98
433 Examples of Extrasolar Planets
103
434 Planet Formation around Pulsars
109
44 Stability of Planetary Systems
110
Perturbations by the Moon and Planets
112
443 Is the Solar System Stable?
117
444 PlutoCharon and Triton
118
45 Extrasolar Planetary Systems
119
451 Stability of Orbits in Binary Stars
120
452 Migration of Planets
121
Catastrophes in Our Solar System?
123
512 The T Tauri Phase of the Early Sun
129
522 Heavy Bombardment Phase
130
524 Collisions in the Early Solar System
131
53 Collisions in the Solar System
134
56 Collisions and Habitability
149
562 Probability of Cometary Impacts
152
563 Impacts and Their Consequences
153
564 The Tunguska Event
155
Catastrophes in Extrasolar Planetary Systems?
157
612 Collision and Xray Flashes
158
613 Small Body Collisions
160
Late Type Stars
162
623 M Type Stars
164
624 Proxima Centauri
165
63 Early Type Stars
167
The Solar Neighborhood
169
712 The Local Bubble
170
72 Nearby Stars
171
722 Nemesis
172
723 Mass Extinctions by Galactic Clouds
173
732 GammaRay Bursts GRB
177
74 Catastrophes and Habitability in Galaxies
179
742 Active Galactic Nuclei and Habitability
182
The Search for Extraterrestrial Life
187
812 Life Based on Ammonia
188
814 BoronBased Life
189
815 Nitrogen and PhosphorusBased Life
190
82 The Gaia Hypothesis
191
823 How to Test Gaia?
192
83 The Future of Extrasolar Planet Finding
193
832 Biomarkers
196
Mars
197
84 Some Case Studies of Habitability
198
842 Venus
199
843 Europa
200
845 Life in Interstellar Medium
201
85 Comparison of Cosmic Catastrophes and Habitability
202
852 Radiation Hazards
203
86 The Drake Equation
204
862 The Drake Equation
205
863 Cosmic Catastrophes and Drakes Equation
206
Chapter 9 Appendix
209
912 Acids Bases and Salts
210
913 Important Elements for Life
211
915 Hydrocarbons
213
916 Alcohols and Organic Acids
215
92 Stars and Radiation
219
922 Spectral Lines
221
924 Stellar Spectra the HertzsprungRussell Diagram
223
Bibliography
227
Index
241
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