Astrobiology is one of the hottest areas of current research, reflecting not only impressive advances in the understanding of the origin of life but also the discovery of over 100 extrasolar planets in recent years. This volume is based on a meeting held in 2002 at the Space Telescope Science Institute, which aimed to lay the astrophysical groundwork for locating habitable places in the Universe. Written by leading scientists in the field, it covers a range of topics relevant to the search for life in the Universe, including: cosmology and its implications for the emergence of life, the habitable zone in the Milky Way Galaxy, the formation of stars and planets, the study of interstellar and interplanetary matter, searches for extrasolar planets, the synthesis of organic material in space, and spectroscopic signatures that could be used to detect life. This is an invaluable resource for both professional researchers and graduate students.
Mario Livio is Head of the Science Division at the Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, MD.
1. A voyage from dark clouds to the early Earth P. Ehrenfreund, S. B. Charnley and O. Botta; 2. Galactic environment of the Sun and stars: interstellar and interplanetary material P. C. Frisch, H. R. Muller, G. P. Zank and C. Lopate; 3. Transits R. L. Gilliland; 4. Planet migration E. W. Thommes and J. J. Lissauer; 5. Organic synthesis in space S. A. Sandford; 6. The Vegetation Red Edge Spectroscopic Feature as a surface biomarker S. Seager and E. B. Ford; 7. Search for extra-solar planets through gravitational microlensing K. C. Sahu; 8. The galactic habitable zone G. Gonzalez; 9. Cosmology and life M. Livio.