Exoplanets & Exomoons

Astrophysical Conditions for Planetary Habitability

By Keith Cowing
July 31, 2014
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Astrophysical Conditions for Planetary Habitability

With the discovery of hundreds of exoplanets and a potentially huge number of Earth-like planets waiting to be discovered, the conditions for their habitability have become a focal point in exoplanetary research.

The classical picture of habitable zones primarily relies on the stellar flux allowing liquid water to exist on the surface of an Earth-like planet with a suitable atmosphere. However, numerous further stellar and planetary properties constrain habitability. Apart from “geophysical” processes depending on the internal structure and composition of a planet, a complex array of astrophysical factors additionally determine habitability.

Among these, variable stellar UV, EUV, and X-ray radiation, stellar and interplanetary magnetic fields, ionized winds, and energetic particles control the constitution of upper planetary atmospheres and their physical and chemical evolution. Short- and long-term stellar variability necessitates full time-dependent studies to understand planetary habitability at any point in time.

Furthermore, dynamical effects in planetary systems and transport of water to Earth-like planets set fundamentally important constraints. We will review these astrophysical conditions for habitability under the crucial aspects of the long-term evolution of stellar properties, the consequent extreme conditions in the early evolutionary phase of planetary systems, and the important interplay between properties of the host star and its planets.

M. Guedel, R. Dvorak, N. Erkaev, J. Kasting, M. Khodachenko, H. Lammer, E. Pilat-Lohinger, H. Rauer, I. Ribas, B.E. Wood (Submitted on 30 Jul 201

Comments: to appear in Protostars and Planets VI, 24 pages, 12 figures

Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP); Solar and Stellar Astrophysics (astro-ph.SR)

Cite as: arXiv:1407.8174 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:1407.8174v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)

Submission history From: Manuel Guedel [v1] Wed, 30 Jul 2014 19:53:48 GMT (1093kb)

Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA Space Station Payload manager/space biologist, Away Teams, Journalist, Lapsed climber, Synaesthete, Na’Vi-Jedi-Freman-Buddhist-mix, ASL, Devon Island and Everest Base Camp veteran, (he/him) 🖖🏻