Exoplanets & Exomoons

Terrestrial Planets Across Space and Time

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
February 2, 2016
Filed under
Terrestrial Planets Across Space and Time

The study of cosmology, galaxy formation and exoplanetary systems has now advanced to a stage where a cosmic inventory of terrestrial planets may be attempted.

By coupling semi-analytic models of galaxy formation to a recipe that relates the occurrence of planets to the mass and metallicity of their host stars, we trace the population of terrestrial planets around both solar-mass (FGK type) and lower-mass (M dwarf) stars throughout all of cosmic history. We find that the mean age of terrestrial planets in the local Universe is 8Β±1 Gyr and that the typical planet of this type is located in a spheroid-dominated galaxy with total stellar mass about twice that of the Milky Way. We estimate that hot Jupiters have depleted the population of terrestrial planets around FGK stars at redshift z=0 by no more than β‰ˆ10%, and predict that β‰ˆ1/3 of the terrestrial planets in the local Universe are orbiting stars in a metallicity range for which such planets have yet to be been detected.

When looking at the inventory of planets throughout the whole observable Universe (i.e. in all galaxies on our past light cone) we argue for a total of β‰ˆ2Γ—1019 and β‰ˆ7Γ—1020 terrestrial planets around FGK and M stars, respectively. Due to the hierarchical formation of galaxies and lookback-time effects, the average terrestrial planet on our past light cone has an age of just 1.7Β±0.2 Gyr and is sitting in a galaxy with a stellar mass a factor of β‰ˆ2 lower than that of the Milky Way. These results are discussed in the context of cosmic habitability, the Copernican principle and the prospects of searches for extraterrestrial intelligence at cosmological distances.

E. Zackrisson, P. Calissendorff, J. Gonzalez, A. Benson, A. Johansen, M. Janson
(Submitted on 1 Feb 2016)

Comments: 11 pages, 8 figures. Comments are welcome!
Subjects: Astrophysics of Galaxies (astro-ph.GA); Cosmology and Nongalactic Astrophysics (astro-ph.CO); Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)
Cite as: arXiv:1602.00690 [astro-ph.GA] (or arXiv:1602.00690v1 [astro-ph.GA] for this version)
Submission history
From: Erik Zackrisson
[v1] Mon, 1 Feb 2016 21:00:04 GMT (634kb)

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»