NASA-supported researchers have created a catalog of over 280,000 nearby, main sequence stars to aid in the simulations of whether or not future ground-based extremely large telescopes (ELTs) could find Earth-like planets with Earth-like oxygen levels around such stars.

Recent studies have proposed that future ELTs could be used to detect Earth-like levels of oxygen in the atmospheres of exoplanets, since such a detection could be a sign that life is present. The new study takes into account additional factors that could affect observations and detection of oxygen, such as the relative velocities of planets, how common Earth-like planets are around main sequence stars, and the ease at which those planets can be observed. It is the most comprehensive study thus far concerning the effectiveness of using ground-based telescopes to search for life on planets beyond the Solar System.

The study, “Bioverse: A Comprehensive Assessment of the Capabilities of Extremely Large Telescopes to Probe Earth-like O2 Levels in Nearby Transiting Habitable-zone Exoplanets,” was published in The Astronomical Journal.