Habitable Zones & Global Climate

Physical Constraints on the Likelihood of Life on Exoplanets

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
July 11, 2017
Filed under
Physical Constraints on the Likelihood of Life on Exoplanets

One of the most fundamental questions in exoplanetology is to determine whether a given planet is habitable.

We estimate the relative likelihood of a planet’s propensity towards habitability by considering key physical characteristics such as the role of temperature on ecological and evolutionary processes, and atmospheric losses via hydrodynamic escape and stellar wind erosion. From our analysis, we demonstrate that Earth-sized exoplanets in the habitable zone around M-dwarfs seemingly display much lower prospects of being habitable relative to Earth, owing to the higher incident ultraviolet fluxes and closer distances to the host star.

We illustrate our results by specifically computing the likelihood (of supporting life) for the recently discovered exoplanets, Proxima b and TRAPPIST-1e, which we find to be several orders of magnitude smaller than that of Earth.

Manasvi Lingam, Abraham Loeb
(Submitted on 10 Jul 2017)

Comments: published in International Journal of Astrobiology; 31 pages; 3 figures
Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP); Solar and Stellar Astrophysics (astro-ph.SR)
DOI: 10.1017/S1473550417000179
Cite as: arXiv:1707.02996 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:1707.02996v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Manasvi Lingam
[v1] Mon, 10 Jul 2017 18:01:01 GMT (340kb)

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) 🖖🏻