III. A Revolutionary Organic Habitable UniVerse
H. An Astrochemistry to Astrobiological Fertility
Johnson, Jennifer, et al. The Origin of Elements across Cosmic Time. arXiv:1907.04388. This Astro2020 White Paper by seventeen scientists from American and European universities is a proposal for decadal studies to retrospectively quantify how nature’s biochemical array came to form. There are now over 360 Astro2020 postings on this site from thousands of international researchers and groupings. Every possible aspect seems to have been covered. See also for example, In Pursuit of Galactic Archaeology at 1907.05422, Scheduling Discovery in the 2020s at 1907.07817, and Climate Change Engagement in Astronomy Research and Education at 1907.08043.
The origin of the elements is fundamental to astronomy, with many issues such as the nature of Type Ia supernovae and timescale of their contributions; the observational identification of elements such as titanium and potassium; the origin of carbon and nitrogen and the influence of mixing and mass loss in winds; and the origin of the intermediate Cu, Ge, As, and Se elements in between charged-particle and neutron-capture reactions. The next decade will bring to maturity many new tools such as large-scale chemical cartography of the Milky Way, the addition of astrometric and asteroseismic information, and the detection of gravitational waves. (Abstract)
Kasting, James and David Catling. Evolution of a Habitable Planet. Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics. 41/429, 2003. A crucial factor is the formation of a sufficiently expansive liquid water zone.
Kolb, Vera, ed. Handbook of Astrobiology. Boca Raton: CRC Press, 2019. The editor is a University of Wisconsin astrochemist and author for these fertile fields. This volume is an 850 page survey to date all about Earth and cosmic life definitions, multifaceted origins, early evolutions, biochemicals and microbes in space, planetary habitability, whence intelligence, exoEarth searches, ethical issues and educative methods. For example Mind in the Universe by David Duner, Where Are They by Nikos Prantzos, The Evolution of Habitability by Charles Lineweaver, et al, The Origin of Life by Iris Fry, Complex Organic Molecules in Space by Sun Kwok, and Communication as the Main Characteristic of Life by Guenther Witzany (search).
Krelowski, Jacek. Organic Molecules in Translucent Interstellar Clouds. Origins of Life and Evolution of Biospheres. Online December, 2014. A latest report on the presence of complex, carbon bearing molecules in this vast milieu, as if a celestial slow-cooker brewing up life and observers. A particular interest is that the author is at Nicolaus Copernicus University in Torun, Poland. Some five centuries on a cosmic Copernican revolution from machine to genesis seems well underway by virtue of these many findings.
Kwok, Sun. Organics in the Solar System. arXiv:1901.04627. The University of Hong Kong prolific researcher and longtime advocate of astrobiochemical science continues to catalog how profusely our cosmic nature fills itself with all the vital substances that life needs to evolve and learn.
Complex organics are now commonly found in meteorites, comets, asteroids, planetary satellites, and interplanetary dust particles. The chemical composition and possible origin of these organics are presented. Specifically, we discuss the possible link between Solar System organics and the complex organics synthesized during the late stages of stellar evolution. Implications of extraterrestrial organics on the origin of life on Earth and the possibility of existence of primordial organics on Earth are also discussed. (Abstract)
Kwok, Sun and Scott Sandford, eds. Organic Matter in Space. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008. Proceedings of the 251st Symposium of the IAU held in Hong Kong, February 2008, where the results of the Stardust satellite that successfully passed through a cometary tail, sampled its composition, and returned material to earth was the prime topic. An introductory paper by Ewine van Dishoeck provides an overview, while a Jet Propulsion Laboratory website for the mission: http://stardust.jpl.nasa.gov/home/index.html describes the incredible range of inorganic and organic chemicals recovered.
Lammer, Helmut, et al. The Science of Exoplanets and Their Systems. Astrobiology. 13/9, 2013. Astrolife researchers from France, Israel, Washington, DC, and California lead off this issue on novel findings of profligate ovular worlds whereupon fertile matter in favorable conditions can stir, evolve, and quicken into complexity and consciousness. How amazing, after billions of years, on one great earth a planetary progeny can begin to search the skies and learn through instrumentation, computation, and collaboration about a newly conducive spacescape of bioworlds as so many seeds or eggs.
A scientific forum on ‘‘The Future Science of Exoplanets and Their Systems,’’ sponsored by Europlanet and the International Space Science Institute and co-organized by the Center for Space and Habitability of the University of Bern, was held during December, 2012, in Bern, Switzerland. It gathered 24 well-known specialists in exoplanetary, Solar System, and stellar science to discuss the future of the fast-expanding field of exoplanetary research, which now has nearly 1000 objects to analyze and compare and will develop even more quickly over the coming years. The forum discussions included a review of current observational knowledge, efforts for exoplanetary atmosphere characterization and their formation, water formation, atmospheric evolution, habitability aspects, and our understanding of how exoplanets interact with their stellar and galactic environment throughout their history. (Abstract)
Lemarchand, Guillermo and Karen Meech, eds. Bioastronomy ’99: A New Era in Bioastronomy. San Francisco: Astronomical Society of the Pacific, 2000. A wide array of thoughts and reports on the occasion of life and intelligence in a universe becoming seen as innately biological in kind. Jill Tarter, John Billingham, Ben Finney, Lori Marino, John Oro, Simon Conway Morris, et al are among the stellar cast.
Livio, Mario, et al, eds.
Astrophysics of Life.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,
The interstellar reaches are
Longstaff, Alan. Astrobiology: An Introduction. Boca Raton: CRC Press, 2014. A British biochemist, astronomer, university professor, and science advocate provides a comprehensive text for the latest realizations of an abiding dynamic cosmos which proceeds to populate itself with planetary worlds, biological precursors, and emergent, cognizant life. Subjects course from nucleosynthesis, stellar formations, astrochemistry, universal Darwinism to solar systems, habitable zones, prolific exoplanets, and conducive earths. Life is seen as a complex, self-organizing, adaptive chemical system that spontaneously emerges far from equilibrium. The work then wonders, within this fertile scenario, about an apparent absence of extraterrestrial civilizations. To reflect, in just a few years a revolutionary cosmic nursery or hatchery has been revealed, which we have hardly begun to realize or assimilate. With our own sun-earth occasion as unusually favorable (Tinetti), we could be on the verge of a grand genesis discovery of universal significance.
Self-organization means that patterns at the level of the entire organism emerge from simple rules that operate at a local level. This is perhaps easier to imagine if we think about self-organization seen at the level of groups of organisms. For example, flocking in birds—the coordinated behavior of thousands of animals that creates a large-scale structure that changes over time—is possible because each individual bird operates a set of simple rules according to what its nearest neighbors have just done. In individual organisms, self-organization emerges from some “simple” rules of chemistry. Macromolecules spontaneously fold or assemble to adopt the lowest energy conformations, and this allows more complex structures to self-assemble. Indeed self-organization is perhaps most impressively seen in the development of multicellular organisms. This unfolding of a developmental program that takes a fertilized egg to an adult is self-organization on a grand scale since the original progenitor cell has no master plan that details all the steps. (158)
Lubick, Naomi. Goldilocks and the Three Planets. Astronomy. July, 2003. Thoughts on the special life-bearing qualities of Earth such as water and atmosphere vs. Venus which is too hot and Mars as too cold.
Maiolino, Roberto and Filippo Mannucci. De Re Metallica: The Cosmic Chemical Evolution of Galaxies. arXiv:1811.09642. In an invited review for Astronomy & Astrophysics, Cambridge University and Arcetri Observatory, Italy astrophysicists post a latest 119 page review of our collaborative, instrumental ability to quantify and describe to any extent the elemental and compound makeup of ancient stellar and galactic formations.
The evolution of the content of heavy elements in galaxies, the relative chemical abundances, their spatial distribution, and how these scale with various galactic properties, provide unique information on the galactic evolutionary processes across the cosmic epochs. In recent years major progress has been made in constraining the chemical evolution of galaxies and inferring key information relevant to our understanding of the main mechanisms involved in galaxy evolution. After an overview, we discuss the observed scaling relations between metallicity and galaxy properties, the observed relative chemical abundances, how the chemical elements are distributed within galaxies, and how these properties evolve across the cosmic epochs. (Abstract excerpt)