Habitable Zones & Global Climate

On The Bio-habitability Of M-dwarf Planets

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
February 1, 2018
Filed under
On The Bio-habitability Of M-dwarf Planets
Extrasolar planet Circling M Class Dwarf

The recent detection of Earth-sized planets in the habitable zone of Proxima Centauri, Trappist-1 and many other nearby M-type stars has led to speculations, whether liquid water and life actually exist on these planets.

To a large extent, the answer depends on their yet unknown atmospheres, which may though be within observational reach in the near future by JWST, ELT and other planned telescopes. We consider the habitability of planets of M-type stars in the context of their atmospheric properties, heat transport and irradiation. Instead of the traditional definition of the habitable zone, we define the bio-habitable zone, where liquid water and complex organic molecules can survive on at least part of the planetary surface. The atmospheric impact on the temperature is quantified in terms of the heating factor (a combination of greenhouse heating, stellar irradiation, albedo etc.) and heat redistribution (horizontal energy transport).

We investigate the bio-habitable domain (where planets can support surface liquid water and organics) in terms of these two factors. Our results suggest that planets orbiting M-type stars may have life-supporting temperatures, at least on part of their surface, for a wide range of atmospheric properties. We apply this analyses to Proxima b and the Trappist-1 system. Finally we discuss the implications to the search of biosignatures and demonstrate how they may be used to estimate the abundance of photosynthesis and biotic planets.

Amri Wandel
(Submitted on 1 Feb 2018)

Comments: 33 pages, 15 figures
Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)
Cite as: arXiv:1802.00141 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:1802.00141v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Amri Wandel [view email]
[v1] Thu, 1 Feb 2018 03:09:17 GMT (1569kb)

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) 🖖🏻