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Faculty Profiles

Manasvi Lingam

Assistant Professor of Astrobiology, Aerospace, Physics and Space Sciences

Personal Overview

After completing my undergraduate degree at the Indian Institute of Technology -  Bombay, I moved to The University of Texas at Austin, where I obtained my Ph.D. in Physics. Afterwards, I undertook postdoctoral stints at Princeton University, Harvard University and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. I am currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Aerospace, Physics and Space Sciences at the Florida Institute of Technology.

 

My research interests are situated primarily within the transdisciplinary area of astrobiology. As a theorist, my research is mostly oriented towards: (a) exploring the multiple factors that regulate the habitability of planets and moons within and outside the Solar system, and (b) identifying potential signatures of extraterrestrial life that might be detectable by forthcoming observations. For instance, I have worked on determining how the available fluxes of nutrients and energy may dictate the productivity of putative biospheres and detectability of biosignatures on a wide variety of worlds ranging from desert and ocean planets to icy moons with subsurface oceans such as Europa and Enceladus. Another area of much interest to me is understanding how stellar processes such as winds, flares, coronal mass ejections, and energetic particles govern planetary habitability in many ways ranging from atmospheric escape to the synthesis of crucial molecules in prebiotic chemistry.  I have also explored how dynamical phenomena shape the distribution of life in our Galaxy by suppressing habitability (via supernovae, active galactic nuclei, etc.) on the one hand and enhancing the number of life-bearing worlds through panspermia (transfer of life through rocky ejecta) on the other.

 

As my Ph.D. and initial postdoctoral research was in plasma physics, I continue to work sporadically in this field. Some of the areas that I have investigated over the past few years include Hamiltonian and Lagrangian formulations for plasma models, developing fluid models that accurately encapsulate collisional effects, generation of small- and large-scale magnetic fields, magnetic turbulence (e.g., in the solar wind), and fast magnetic reconnection which is believed to drive explosive phenomena such as stellar/solar flares.

 

Educational Background

Ph.D. in Physics, The University of Texas at Austin (2010-15)

 

B. Tech in Engineering Physics, Indian Institute of Technology - Bombay (2005-09)

 

Professional Experience

Assistant Professor of Astrobiology, Department of Aerospace, Physics and Space Sciences, Florida Institute of Technology (2019-present)

 

Postdoctoral Fellow, Institute for Theory and Computation, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (2017-19)

 

Postdoctoral Fellow, John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University (2016-17)

 

Postdoctoral Research Associate, Department of Astrophysical Sciences, Princeton University (2015-16)

 

Courses Taught

PHY 2002H  - Physics 2 (Honors)

PHY 5017 - Electromagnetic Theory 1

PHY 5015 - Analytical Mechanics 1

 

Current Research

Habitability of planets and moons in the Solar system and beyond

 

Biosignatures and Technosignatures

 

Hamiltonian and Lagrangian methods for plasmas

 

Plasma astrophysics - magnetic reconnection, dynamos, and turbulence

 

Supermassive black holes


Publications

Books

Life in the Cosmos: From Biosignatures to Technosignatures

M. Lingam & A. Loeb, Harvard University Press (2021)

Selected papers

Potential for Liquid Water Biochemistry Deep under the Surfaces of the Moon, Mars, and beyond
M. Lingam & A. Loeb, Astrophys. J. Lett., 901, L11 (2020)

Propulsion of Spacecraft to Relativistic Speeds Using Natural Astrophysical Sources
M. Lingam & A. Loeb, Astrophys. J., 894, 36 (2020)

Implications of Abiotic Oxygen Buildup for Earth-like Complex Life
M. Lingam, Astron. J., 159, 144 (2020)

On the Habitable Lifetime of Terrestrial Worlds with High Radionuclide Abundances
M. Lingam & A. Loeb, Astrophys. J. Lett., 889, L20 (2020)

Constraints on Aquatic Photosynthesis for Terrestrial Planets around Other Stars
M. Lingam & A. Loeb, Astrophys. J. Lett., 889, L15 (2020)

Electric sails are potentially more effective than light sails near most stars
M. Lingam & A. Loeb, Acta Astronaut., 168, 146 (2020)

Role of stellar physics in regulating the critical steps for life
M. Lingam & A. Loeb, Int. J. Astrobiol, 18, 527 (2019)

Brown Dwarf Atmospheres as the Potentially Most Detectable and Abundant Sites for Life
M. Lingam & A. Loeb, Astrophys. J., 883, 143 (2019)

 

Active Galactic Nuclei: Boon or Bane for Biota?
M. Lingam, I. Ginsburg & S. Bialy, Astrophys. J., 877, 62 (2019)

 

Colloquium: Physical constraints for the evolution of life on exoplanets
M. Lingam & A. Loeb, Rev. Mod. Phys., 91, 021002 (2019)

 

Revisiting the Biological Ramifications of Variations in Earth's Magnetic Field
M. Lingam, Astrophys. J. Lett., 874, L28 (2019)

 

Relative Likelihood of Success in the Searches for Primitive versus Intelligent Extraterrestrial Life
M. Lingam & A. Loeb, Astrobiology, 19, 28 (2019)

 

Subsurface exolife
M. Lingam & A. Loeb, Int. J. Astrobiol., 18, 112 (2019)

 

Galactic Panspermia
I. Ginsburg, M. Lingam & A. Loeb, Astrophys. J. Lett., 868, L12 (2018)

 

Is Extraterrestrial Life Suppressed on Subsurface Ocean Worlds due to the Paucity of Bioessential Elements?
M. Lingam & A. Loeb, Astron. J., 156, 151 (2018)

 

The Propitious Role of Solar Energetic Particles in the Origin of Life
M. Lingam, C. Dong, X. Fang, B. M. Jakosky & A. Loeb, Astrophys. J., 853, 10 (2018)

 

Implications of Tides for Life on Exoplanets
M. Lingam & A. Loeb, Astrobiology, 18, 967 (2018)

 

A maximum entropy principle for inferring the distribution of 3D plasmoids
M. Lingam & L. Comisso, Phys. Plasmas, 25, 012114 (2018)

 

Black hole Brownian motion in a rotating galaxy
M. Lingam, Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc., 473, 1719 (2018)

 

Risks for Life on Habitable Planets from Superflares of Their Host Stars
M. Lingam & A. Loeb, Astrophys. J., 848, 41 (2017)

 

Enhanced interplanetary panspermia in the TRAPPIST-1 system
M. Lingam & A. Loeb, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 114, 6689 (2017)

 

Nonlinear resistivity for magnetohydrodynamical models
M. Lingam, E. Hirvijoki, D. Pfefferle, L. Comisso & A. Bhattacharjee, Phys. Plasmas, 24, 042120 (2017)

 

Is Proxima Centauri b Habitable? A Study of Atmospheric Loss
C. Dong, M. Lingam, Y. Ma & O. Cohen, Astrophys. J. Lett., 837, L26 (2017)

 

General theory of the plasmoid instability
L. Comisso, M. Lingam, Y.-M. Huang & A. Bhattacharjee, Phys. Plasmas, 23, 100702 (2016)

 

Concomitant Hamiltonian and topological structures of extended magnetohydrodynamics
M. Lingam, G. Miloshevich & P. J. Morrison, Phys. Lett. A., 380, 2400 (2016)