2011 Annual Science Report
University of Hawaii, Manoa Reporting | SEP 2010 – AUG 2011
Galactic Habitable Zone
Life for certain exists in the Milky Way galaxy, however, understanding if there are certain regions in the galaxy that are more favorable to life is one of the thrusts of astrobiology. This project GHZ is described in terms of the spatial and temporal dimensions of the Galaxy that may favor the devel-opment of complex life. Of particular particular interest to astrobiologists, and to the general public, is whether or not our position in the Galaxy is favourable for the development of complex life.
This is an exciting area of research, as graduate student Mike Gowanlock is making initial estimates of habitability in the Galaxy within. This research depends on numerous observational studies of supernovae, exoplanet searches, protoplanetary discs, the morphology of the Galaxy, advanced models of the chemical evolution of the Galaxy and dynamical simulations of planet formation. The investigation is showing that the inner Galaxy is the most conducive to complex life. After the publication of the first results, this was picked up with intense interest by the public:
- NASA’s Astrobiology magazine: http://www.astrobio.net/exclusive/4231/living-in-the-galactic-danger-zone
- Astronomy Now- UK print magazine: http://www.astronomynow.com/
- Astrobites: http://astrobites.com/2011/07/14/finding-the-galactic-habitable-zone/
- MIT Technology Review: http://www.technologyreview.com/blog/arxiv/26984/
- Daily galaxy: http://www.dailygalaxy.com/my_weblog/2011/12/cloud-heading-for-the-milky-ways-black-hole-hints-at-planet-formation-at-the-galactic-center.html
- Daily Galaxy: http://www.dailygalaxy.com/my_weblog/2012/01/habitable-dead-zones-of-the-milky-way-new-years-feature-a-2011-most-popular.html
- Yahoo News (Reprint of NASA Astrobiology article above)- http://ca.news.yahoo.com/habitable-planets-galaxys-danger-zone-224801899.html
- Australian Broadcasting Corporation- http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2011/07/13/3268574.htm
The work is continuing by extending the model to include the bulge of the Galaxy, as only the disk was modeled in previous work. Due to recent findings by Kepler, the model will be updated to reflect newer estimates of the metallicityplanet correlation, among other new observational studies.