Exoplanets & Exomoons

Effects of Eccentricity on Climates and Habitability of Terrestrial Exoplanets Around M dwarfs

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
October 4, 2017
Filed under ,
Effects of Eccentricity on Climates and Habitability of Terrestrial Exoplanets Around M dwarfs

Eccentricity is an important orbital parameter. Understanding its effect on planetary climate and habitability is critical for us to search for a habitable world beyond our solar system.

The orbital configurations of M-dwarf planets are always tidally-locked at resonance states, which are quite different from those around Sun-like stars. M-dwarf planets need to be investigated separately. Here we use a comprehensive three-dimensional atmospheric general circulation model to systematically investigate how eccentricity influences climate and habitability of M-dwarf exoplanets. The simulation results show that (1) the seasonal climatic cycles of such planets are very weak even for e = 0.4. It is unlikely that an aqua planet falls out of a habitable zone during its orbit. (2) The annual global mean surface temperature significantly increases with increased eccentricity, due to the decrease of the cloud albedo.

Both the runaway greenhouse inner edge and moist greenhouse inner edge shift outward. (3) Planets in an eccentric orbit can be captured in other spin-orbit resonance states which lead to different climate patterns, namely eyeball pattern and striped-ball pattern.The striped-ball pattern has evidently higher surface temperatures due to the reduced planetary albedo. Near the outer edge, planets with p = 1.0 and 2.0 are more resistant to the snowball state due to more locally-concentrated stellar fluxes. Thus, planets with integer spin-orbit resonance numbers have wider habitable zones than those with half-integer spin-orbit resonance states. Above all, as a comparison to circular orbit, eccentricity shrinks the width of the habitable zone.

Yuwei Wang, Yonggang Liu, Feng Tian, Yongyun Hu, Yi Huang
(Submitted on 3 Oct 2017)

Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)
Cite as: arXiv:1710.01405 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:1710.01405v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Yuwei Wang
[v1] Tue, 3 Oct 2017 22:21:50 GMT (3008kb)

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) 🖖🏻