Habitable Zones & Global Climate

Probability of CME Impact on Exoplanets Orbiting M Dwarfs and Solar-Like Stars

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
July 7, 2017
Filed under
Probability of CME Impact on Exoplanets Orbiting M Dwarfs and Solar-Like Stars

Solar coronal mass ejections (CMEs) produce adverse space weather effects at Earth.

Planets in the close habitable zone of magnetically active M dwarfs may experience more extreme space weather than at Earth, including frequent CME impacts leading to atmospheric erosion and leaving the surface exposed to extreme flare activity. Similar erosion may occur for hot Jupiters with close orbits around solar-like stars.

We have developed a model, Forecasting a CME’s Altered Trajectory (ForeCAT), which predicts a CME’s deflection. We adapt ForeCAT to simulate CME deflections for the mid-type M dwarf V374 Peg and hot Jupiters with solar-type hosts. V374 Peg’s strong magnetic fields can trap CMEs at the M dwarfs’s Astrospheric Current Sheet, the location of the minimum in the background magnetic field.

Solar-type CMEs behave similarly, but have much smaller deflections and do not get trapped at the Astrospheric Current Sheet. The probability of planetary impact decreases with increasing inclination of the planetary orbit with respect to the Astrospheric Current Sheet – 0.5 to 5 CME impacts per day for M dwarf exoplanets, 0.05 to 0.5 CME impacts per day for solar-type hot Jupiters. We determine the minimum planetary magnetic field necessary to shield a planet’s atmosphere from the CME impacts.

M dwarf exoplanets require values between tens and hundreds of Gauss. Hot Jupiters around a solar-type star, however, require a more reasonable <30 G. These values exceed the magnitude required to shield a planet from the stellar wind, suggesting CMEs may be the key driver of atmospheric losses. C. Kay, M. Opher, M. Kornbleuth
(Submitted on 9 May 2016)

Comments: Accepted in ApJ
Subjects: Solar and Stellar Astrophysics (astro-ph.SR); Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)
DOI: 10.3847/0004-637X/826/2/195
Cite as: arXiv:1605.02683 [astro-ph.SR] (or arXiv:1605.02683v1 [astro-ph.SR] for this version)
Submission history
From: Christina Kay
[v1] Mon, 9 May 2016 18:21:06 GMT (1185kb,D)

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) 🖖🏻