Exoplanets & Exomoons

Chemical Composition of tau Ceti and Possible Effects on Terrestrial Planets

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
March 15, 2015
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Chemical Composition of tau Ceti and Possible Effects on Terrestrial Planets

tau Ceti (HD10700), a G8 dwarf with solar mass of 0.78, is a close (3.65 pc) sun-like star where 5 possibly terrestrial planet candidates (minimum masses of 2, 3.1, 3.5, 4.3, and 6.7 Earth masses) have recently been discovered.

We report abundances of 23 elements using spectra from the MIKE spectrograph on Magellan. Using stellar models with the abundances determined here, we calculate the position of the classical habitable zone with time. At the current best fit age, 7.63 Gy, up to two planets (e and f) may be in the habitable zone, depending on atmospheric properties. The Mg/Si ratio of the star is found to be 1.78, which is much greater than for Earth (about 1.2).

With a system that has such an excess of Mg to Si ratio it is possible that the mineralogical make-up of planets around tau Ceti could be significantly different from that of Earth, with possible oversaturation of MgO, resulting in an increase in the content of olivine and ferropericlase compared with Earth. The increase in MgO would have a drastic impact on the rheology of the mantles of the planets around tau Ceti.

Michael Pagano, Amanda Truitt, Patrick A. Young, Sang-Heon Shim (Submitted on 13 Mar 2015)

Comments: 17 pages, 1 figure, supplemental table, Astrophysical Journal

Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)

Cite as: arXiv:1503.04189 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:1503.04189v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)

Submission history From: Michael Pagano [v1] Fri, 13 Mar 2015 19:29:54 GMT (119kb,D) http://arxiv.org/abs/1503.04189

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) πŸ––πŸ»