Habitable Zones & Global Climate

Assessing the Interior Structure of Terrestrial Exoplanets with Implications for Habitability

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
October 16, 2017
Filed under ,
Assessing the Interior Structure of Terrestrial Exoplanets with Implications for Habitability
Extrasolar planet

Astrophysical observations reveal a large diversity of radii and masses of exoplanets. It is important to characterize the interiors of exoplanets to understand planetary diversity and further determine how unique, or not, Earth is.

Assessing interior structure is challenging because there are few data and large uncertainties. Thus, for a given exoplanet a range of interior structure models can satisfy available data. Typically, interior models aim to constrain the radial structure and composition of the core and mantle, and additionally ice, ocean, and gas layer if appropriate. Constraining the parameters of these layers may also inform us about interior dynamics.

However, it remains challenging to constrain interior dynamics using interior structure models because structure models are relatively insensitive to the thermal state of a planet. Nevertheless, elucidating interior dynamics remains a key goal in exoplanetology due to its role in determining surface conditions and hence habitability. Thus far, Earth-like habitability can be excluded for super-Earths that are in close proximity to their stars and therefore have high surface temperatures that promote local magma oceans.

Caroline Dorn, Dan J. Bower, Antoine B. Rozel
(Submitted on 16 Oct 2017)

Comments: accepted book chapter in Handbook of Exoplanets, SpringerLink, 3 Figures, 20 pages (excl. references)
Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)
Cite as: arXiv:1710.05605 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:1710.05605v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Caroline Dorn
[v1] Mon, 16 Oct 2017 10:23:27 GMT (1456kb,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) 🖖🏻