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Habitable Zones & Global Climate: October 2019


This textbook gives a perspective of heliophysics in a way that emphasizes universal processes from a perspective that draws attention to what provides Earth (and similar (exo-)planets) with a relatively stable setting in which life as we know it can thrive. The book is intended for students in physical sciences in later years of their university training and for beginning graduate students in fields of solar, stellar, (exo-)planetary, and planetary-system sciences.

An exoplanet may seem like the perfect spot to set up housekeeping, but before you go there, take a closer look at its star. Rice University astrophysicists are doing just that, building a computer model to help judge how a star's own atmosphere impacts its planets, for better or worse.

Multiple hypotheses/models have been put forward regarding the cooling history of the Earth. The search for life beyond Earth has brought these models into a new light as they connect to one of the two energy sources life can tap.

M dwarfs host most of the exoplanets in the local Milky Way. Some of these planets, ranging from sub-Earths to super-Jupiters, orbit in their stars' habitable zones, although many likely possess surface environments that preclude habitability.

Correct estimates of stellar extreme ultraviolet (EUV; 100 - 1170 Å) flux are important for studying the photochemistry and stability of exoplanet atmospheres, as EUV radiation ionizes hydrogen and contributes to the heating, expansion, and potential escape of a planet's upper atmosphere.

We investigate the possibility of finding Earth-like planets in the habitable zone of 34 nearby FGK-dwarfs, each known to host one giant planet exterior to their habitable zone detected by RV.

About 4000 exoplanets have been confirmed since the year of 1992, and for most of the planets, the main parameters that can be measured are planetary radius and mass.

Terrestrial planets orbiting within the habitable zones of M-stars are likely to become tidally locked in a 1:1 spin:orbit configuration and are prime targets for future characterization efforts.

The energy balance and climate of planets can be affected by the reflective properties of their land, ocean, and frozen surfaces.

The habitable fraction of a planet's surface is important for the detectability of surface biosignatures.

In the science fiction film Interstellar, a band of intrepid astronauts sets out to explore a system of planets orbiting a supermassive black hole, searching for a world that may be conducive to hosting human life.

Two of TESS's major science goals are to measure masses for 50 planets smaller than 4 Earth radii and to discover high-quality targets for atmospheric characterization efforts.