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The transit of the planet orbiting HD209458 has been observed using VLT/UVES, in search for faint signatures of an extended envelope of gas possibly surrounding the planet, called exosphere. Preliminary results are shown and described. They show no evidence so far of exospheric signatures.
One of the Drake Equation factors that has changed the most since 1961 is ne, the average number of planets per star that can potentially support life. This factor is still evolving.
The definition of conditions for developing life is related to the definition of a circumstellar habitable zone. It is generally defined as the zone in which physical conditions make presence of liquid water possible. As a first approximation, it implies a temperature between 0 and 100 degrees Celsius, the so-called Goldilocks condition. This preliminary estimate is based on the temperature of the star: in other words, its spectral type and the distance between the star and its planet. Changes in the ne term are principally due to unexpected characteristics on one hand of many exoplanets and on the other hand of some objects in the solar system.
We first discuss the basic condition for life: liquid water. Stellar spectral types where life is most likely to emerge and exist are reviewed, and less favorable conditions of hot and cold stars are discussed. We also look at planets orbiting one member of a binary star, or around both stars (“circumbinary planets”). We point out the physical conditions necessary for planets to shelter life, including mass and other physical parameters. Exomoons are interesting objects and are discussed as well. Relations between the star and its planetary system are reviewed. No longer is distance the only parameter to be considered. In the case of terrestrial exoplanets with large eccentricity that cross the habitable zone, life with some phases of hibernation may be possible. Some terrestrial exoplanets orbit so close to their star that they are co-rotating, keeping one face to the star at all times, which implies that a temperate annular zone may exist between the very 115hot face in front of the star and the very cold face on the opposite side. Characteristics of some satellites in the solar system discovered since the space age show that some tidal effects are liable to extend the habitable zone, as can be seen by the detection of oceans flowing below the icy surface of Europa or internal water springing from the geysers of Enceladus. It would be interesting to search for and study as a source of possible life moons of giant exoplanets located in the habitable zone of their star. As a conclusion, the continuously increasing number of small rocky planets provides great encouragement to search for extraterrestrial life. Indeed, they show a high rate per star and satisfy the conditions necessary for producing life.
We present herein a joint physical/physico-chemical study and, more specifically, the first application of Matrix Assisted Laser Desorption Ionization coupled with Time of Flight Mass Spectrometry (MALDI-TOF-MS) to analyze small-sized ZnO quantum dots (QDs) (2.8-3.1 nm diameter range) synthesized by sol-gel chemistry and stabilized through an aminosilane coating. A careful investigation of the stability of ZnO QDs was initiated once these dots were dispersed in different media (water, biological buffer) for a period up to 3 weeks. Positive ion mode mass spectra MALDI-TOF-MS combined with optical spectrometry was used to monitor the stability of ZnO QDs when aging. Such a unique combination of MALDI-TOF-MS and physico-chemical techniques is likely to bring new insights into the structure analysis, the stability and consequently the potential toxicity of QDs.
In the search for extraterrestrial life and intelligence, it is essential to clarify what is to be meant by ‘life’ and ‘intelligence’. I first analyse what it means to ‘define’ these words. I will show that some philosophical prejudice is unavoidable. As a working hypothesis, I consider two types of philosophy: ‘natural philosophy’, seeking for some essence of things, and ‘critical (or analytical) philosophy’, devoted to the analysis of the procedures by which we claim to construct a reality. An extension of critical philosophy, epistemo-analysis (i.e. the psycho-analysis of concepts) is presented and applied to the definition of exolife and to extraterrestrial ‘intelligence’. Some pragmatic conclusions are finally drawn for future search strategies.
To describe antimicrobial resistance patterns for healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) reported to the National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) during 2009-2010.
Central line-associated bloodstream infections, catheter-associated urinary tract infections, ventilator-associated pneumonia, and surgical site infections were included. Pooled mean proportions of isolates interpreted as resistant (or, in some cases, nonsusceptible) to selected antimicrobial agents were calculated by type of HAI and compared to historical data.
Overall, 2,039 hospitals reported 1 or more HAIs; 1,749 (86%) were general acute care hospitals, and 1,143 (56%) had fewer than 200 beds. There were 69,475 HAIs and 81,139 pathogens reported. Eight pathogen groups accounted for about 80% of reported pathogens: Staphylococcus aureus (16%), Enterococcus spp. (14%), Escherichia coli (12%), coagulase-negative staphylococci (11%), Candida spp. (9%), Klebsiella pneumoniae (and Klebsiella oxytoca; 8%), Pseudomonas aeruginosa (8%), and Enterobacter spp. (5%). The percentage of resistance was similar to that reported in the previous 2-year period, with a slight decrease in the percentage of S. aureus resistant to oxacillins (MRSA). Nearly 20% of pathogens reported from all HAIs were the following multidrug-resistant phenotypes: MRSA (8.5%); vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (3%); extended-spectrum cephalosporin-resistant K. pneumoniae and K. oxytoca (2%), E. coli (2%), and Enterobacter spp. (2%); and carbapenem-resistant P. aeruginosa (2%), K. pneumoniae/oxytoca (<1%), E, coli (<1%), and Enterobacter spp. (<1%). Among facilities reporting HAIs with 1 of the above gram-negative bacteria, 20%-40% reported at least 1 with the resistant phenotype.
While the proportion of resistant isolates did not substantially change from that in the previous 2 years, multidrug-resistant gram-negative phenotypes were reported from a moderate proportion of facilities.
Nanowires with different nitrogen concentrations were grown by Metal-Organic Chemical Vapor Deposition (MOCVD) using DEZn, N2O and NH3as zinc, oxygen and nitrogen doping sources respectively. Low temperature photoluminescence, Raman spectroscopy and Transmission Electron Microscopy are combined to study the incorporation of nitrogen in the wires. The observation of donor-acceptor pair band confirms that the incorporation nitrogen in ZnO nanowires is responsible for the creation of acceptor centers. The additional peaks observed in Raman are correlated to nano-sized inter-atomic distance fluctuations observed in TEM. These domains combined with a resonance effect are probably the explanation of the huge Raman cross section observed for the impurity related peaks.
SPICES (Spectro-Polarimetric Imaging and Characterization of Exoplanetary Systems) was proposed in 2010 for a five-year M-class mission in the context of ESA Cosmic Vision. Its purpose is to image and characterize long-period extrasolar planets located at several AUs (0.5-10 AU) from nearby stars (<25 pc) with masses ranging from a few Jupiter masses down to super-Earths (~2 Earth radii, ~10 M⊕), possibly habitable. In addition, circumstellar disks as faint as a few times the zodiacal light in the Solar System can be studied. SPICES is based on a 1.5-m off-axis telescope and can perform spectro-polarimetric measurements in the visible (450 - 900 nm) at a spectral resolution of about 40. This paper summarizes the top science program and the choices made to conceive the instrument. The performance is illustrated for a few emblematic cases.
In the context of life detection on terrestrial exoplanets, new methods of search for spectral signatures of chlorophyll and other biomarkers in the Earthshine have been developed in the last few decades. Astronomical observations made at OHP and ESO (NTT) showed a significant signal when continents are facing the Moon. This signal, called the Vegetation Red Edge (VRE), is undoubtedly due to chlorophyll absorption properties. In order to strengthen these results, the LUCAS (LUmière Cendrée en Antarctique par Spectroscopie) project dedicated to the measurement of the Earthshine from the Concordia Research Station (C Dome, Antarctica) has been set up. One of the objectives of LUCAS was to observe prolonged variations of the VRE corresponding to various parts of the Earth facing the Moon. An extension of this project, called LUCAS II, would allow long-term observations to detect seasonal variations of the vegetation signal. These data, together with accurate measurements of the Earth's albedo, will help validate a model of global and spectral albedo of our planet.
We present numerical results of the science performance of the SPICES mission, which aims to characterize the spectro-polarimetric properties of cold exoplanets and circumstellar disks in the visible. We focus on the instrument ability to retrieve the spectral signatures of molecular species, clouds and surface of super-Earths in the habitable zone of solar-type stars. Considering realistic reflected planet spectra and instrument limitation, we show that SPICES could analyse the atmosphere and surface of a few super-Earths within 5 pc of the Sun.
The future effects of nitrogen in the environment will depend on the extent of nitrogen use and the practical application techniques of nitrogen in a similar way as in the past. Projections and scenarios are appropriate tools for extrapolating current knowledge into the future. However, these tools will not allow future system turnovers to be predicted.
In principle, scenarios of nitrogen use follow the approaches currently used for air pollution, climate, or ecosystem projections. Short-term projections (to 2030) are developed using a ‘baseline’ path of development, which considers abatement options that are consistent with European policy. For medium-term projections (to 2050) and long-term projections, the European Nitrogen Assessment (ENA) applies a ‘storyline’ approach similar to that used in the IPCC SRES scenarios. Beyond 2050 in particular, such storylines also take into account technological and behavioral shifts.
Key findings/state of knowledge
The ENA distinguishes between driver-oriented and effect-oriented factors determining nitrogen use. Parameters that cause changes in nitrogen fixation or application are called drivers. In a driver-based approach, it is assumed that any variation of these parameters will also trigger a change in nitrogen pollution. In an effect-based approach, as the adverse effects of nitrogen become evident in the environment, introduction of nitrogen abatement legislation requiring the application of more efficient abatement measures is expected. This approach needs to rely on a target that is likely to be maintained in the future (e.g. human health). Nitrogen abatement legislation based on such targets will aim to counter any growth in adverse environmental effects that occur as a result of increased nitrogen application.
The SEE COAST concept is designed with the objective to characterize extrasolar planets and possibly Super Earths via spectro-polarimetric imaging in reflected light. A space mission complementary to ground-based near IR planet finders is a first secure step towards the characterization of planets with mass and atmosphere comparable to that of the Earth. The accessibility to the Visible spectrum is unique and with important scientific returns.
The aim of the LUCAS program is to observe chlorophyll and atmospheric molecules in the Earthshine spectrum in order to prepare the detection of life in terrestrial extrasolar planets to be discovered. Actually, observations from Antarctica offer a unique possibility to study the variations of Earthshine spectrum during Earth rotation while various parts of Earth are facing the Moon. Special instrumentation for the LUCAS program was designed and put in the Concordia station in the Dome C. Observations are in progress.
A survey of the worldwide litterature reveals that the question “Are we alone in the Universe?” has been formulated only in the “western” litterature. Here I try to understand why it is so. To investigate this problem it is first necessary to clarify what western culture means.
The search for life in extraterrestrial planets is to be tested first with the only planet known to shelter life. If the planet Earth is used as an example to search for a signature of life, the vegetation is one of its possible detectable signature, using the Vegetation Red Edge due to chlorophyll in the near infrared (0.725 μm). We focus on the test of the detectability of vegetation in the spectrum of Earth seen as a simple dot, using the reflection of the global Earth on the lunar surface, i.e., Earthshine. On the Antartic, the Earthshine can be seen during several hours in a day (not possible at our latitudes) and so variations due to different parts of Earth, that is to say oceans and continents facing the Moon could be detected.
The spectra of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) are being used to construct a catalogue of QSO absorption lines, for use in studies of abundances, relevant radiation fields, number counts as a function of redshift, and other matters, including the evolution of these parameters. The catalogue includes intervening, associated, and BAL absorbers, in order to allow a clearer definition of the relationships between these three classes. We describe the motivation for and the data products of the project to build the SDSS QSO absorption line catalogue.
The discoveries of the first planets around a pulsar and around a star similar to our Sun have opened, after centuries of speculation, a new era in astronomy. The quest for other worlds has become reality. In this paper, the motivations for this search are presented. A comparative review is made of different techniques for their detection, with special attention paid to the planet parameters that can be derived from each method. The first discoveries and their astrophysical consequences are analysed. New questions and future projects beyond these first discoveries are reviewed, with special attention given to the search for life in extrasolar planetary systems. Finally, worldwide activities and the role of Europe are described.