Astrophysics and Space Science

, Volume 348, Issue 1, pp 1–10 | Cite as

Final frontiers: the hunt for life elsewhere in the Universe

Invited review

Abstract

This paper seeks to review the likelihood of unearthing evidence of the existence of life elsewhere in the Universe. Although it has been demonstrated that life can thrive in the severest of conditions on Earth, detecting its presence in similarly habitable zones elsewhere is proving to be an extremely complex issue. There are many reasons for this, the major ones being that the distances involved are vast; the low potential signal to noise ratio, spatial and spectral resolutions arising from planets with biospheres; and biosignals themselves can be misleading. New telescopes with improved technology are on the horizon which will extend our capabilities, but it is still doubtful that any exploration could venture beyond the borders of our galaxy. Moreover, caution needs to be exercised when assessing the signals emitted by biomarkers as these could be produced abiotically. However, if the focus of the search should be concentrated around the area of M dwarf stars then, as we begin to understand the nature of habitable zones, our chances of eventually achieving our goals will be enhanced.

Keywords

Life in the Universe Biomarkers Biosignals Habitable zones Habitable planets Earth like planets M Dwarfs 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Physical SciencesThe Open UniversityWalton HallUK

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