Published on January 25, 2008
Announcements: Announcements Clear sky patrol will be 7-9 pm on clear nights on Monday-Thursday each week. Astronomy tutorials have started; the schedule is on the class web site. The first exam is Wednesday, February 9. A practice exam will be made available on Friday. The Doppler effect (for sound) is caused by: The Doppler effect (for sound) is caused by the motion of a source between emission of successive sound waves compression of sound waves due to motion of air a change in the speed of sound for moving objects a German guy named Doppler Life Beyond Earth: Life Beyond Earth What is life? Where might we find life? History of life on Earth Reading: Chapter 30. What is Life?: What is Life? What are the essential characteristics of life? What is Life?: What is Life? Essential elements are: Life reproduces itself Life is able to adapt and pass changes to new generations This seems to require a genetic code which can stores information about how to grow new organism and is passed from generation to generation Life on Earth: Life on Earth Is based on `organic’ molecules – those containing carbon atoms Carbon can combine with hydrogen and other atoms to form complex molecules Complex molecules appear necessary to store the information needed for a genetic code Life on Earth uses DNA, a carbon-based molecule, to store the genetic code Life on Earth: Life on Earth Life on Earth appears to require water No life is know to exist in the complete absence of water Water allows other molecules to dissolve, move around, and interact with each other Organic molecules: Organic molecules Organic molecules are found on meteorites dating back to the origin of the solar system. Molecules are common in interstellar space. Habitable zone: Habitable zone The requirement for water suggests those planets which have liquid water may be the most promising havens for life. In order to have liquid water, a planet must be “not too cold and not too hot”, i.e. at a temperature between freezing and boiling. How warm a planet is depends on its distance from the sun. Are there any exceptions to the habitable zone?: Are there any exceptions to the habitable zone? Yes, if there are sources of energy other than the sun to keep a planet (or moon) warm. Possible energy sources Radioactivity Tides Europa: Europa Liquid water oceans are though to exist on Jupiter’s moon Europa Mars: Mars Mars may have had liquid water early on. Meteorites from Mars: Meteorites from Mars An ancient Martian rock that came to Earth as a meteorite may show evidence that microorganisms once existed on Mars Additional rock samples are needed to provide corroboration Are 55 Cancri’s planets in the habitable zone?: Are 55 Cancri’s planets in the habitable zone? Some gas giants are in the habitable zone: Some gas giants are in the habitable zone Why is it easier to use Doppler shifts to discover binary stars than to discover planets orbiting other stars?: Why is it easier to use Doppler shifts to discover binary stars than to discover planets orbiting other stars? The orbital periods of binary stars are longer than those of planets. The Doppler shifts for binary stars are larger because stars are more massive than planets. Stars are larger and cause deeper eclipses. That German guy said so. Evolution of Life on Earth: Evolution of Life on Earth Even if we find life on another planet, is it likely to be a higher form of life such as mammals or something simpler? What form of life occupied the Earth for most of its history? Evolution of Life on Earth: Evolution of Life on Earth 4.6 billion years ago – Earth formed 3.96 “ “ “ – oldest rocks 3.5 “ “ “ – oldest fossils – single celled life 0.7 “ “ “ – multicellular life 0.0001 “ “ “ – humans (homo sapiens) History of life on Earth in 12 hours: History of life on Earth in 12 hours Slide21: Big bang Milky Way forms Sun and planets form Oldest known life - single cell First multicellular life Carl Sagan’s “Cosmic Calendar” The history of the Universe in one year Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI): Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) We could avoid this whole business of searching for planets and primitive forms of life, if extraterrestrials would just send us a message. There are active searches for such signals, mainly in the radio, some using visible light. One thing that is needed is more computing power. You can volunteer your computer to process SETI signals while the screen saver is on at the web site http://setiathome.ssl.berkeley.edu/ Review Questions: Review Questions What is needed for life? What is the habitable zone? Besides Earth, what are the most likely locations for life in our solar system? For what fraction of the history of the Earth have humans existed?