Presentation #220.05 in the session SETI, Technosignatures, and the Search for Life.
It may be possible to detect biosignatures of photosynthesis in an exoplanet’s atmosphere. However, such a detection would likely require a dedicated study, occupying a large amount of telescope time. It is therefore prudent, while searching for signs of life that we may recognise, to pick the best target possible. We present a new region, the “photosynthetic habitable zone” —the distance from a star where both liquid water and oxygenic photosynthesis can occur. It is therefore the region where detectable biosignatures of oxygenic photosynthesis are most likely to occur. Our analysis indicates that in the most ideal conditions for life and no atmospheric effects, the photosynthetic habitable zone is almost as broad as the habitable zone. On the other hand, if conditions for life are anything less than excellent and atmospheric effects are even moderate, the photosynthetic habitable zone is concentrated at larger separations around more massive stars. Such cases are also not tidally locked to their host star, which could result in planetary rotation. We conclude that the parameter space in which we should search for signs of life is much narrower than the standard habitable zone.