Habitable Zones & Global Climate

Atmospheres and UV Environments of Earth-like Planets Throughout Post-Main Sequence Evolution

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
April 24, 2019
Filed under
Atmospheres and UV Environments of Earth-like Planets Throughout Post-Main Sequence Evolution
Earth-like Planet

During the post-main sequence phase of stellar evolution the orbital distance of the habitable zone, which allows for liquid surface water on terrestrial planets, moves out past the system’s original frost line, providing an opportunity for outer planetary system surface habitability.

We use a 1D coupled climate/photochemistry code to study the impact of the stellar environment on the planetary atmospheres of Earth-like planets/moons throughout its time in the post-main sequence habitable zone. We also explore the ground UV environments of such planets/moons and compare them to Earth’s. We model the evolution of star-planet systems with host stars ranging from 1.0 to 3.5 M⊙ throughout the post-main sequence, calculating stellar mass loss and its effects on planetary orbital evolution and atmospheric erosion. The maximum amount of time a rocky planet can spend continuously in the evolving post-MS habitable zone ranges between 56 and 257 Myr for our grid stars.

Thus, during the post-MS evolution of their host star, subsurface life on cold planets and moons could become remotely detectable once the initially frozen surface melts. Frozen planets or moons, like Europa in our Solar System, experience a relatively stable environment on the horizontal branch of their host stars’ evolution for millions of years.

Thea Kozakis, Lisa Kaltenegger
(Submitted on 23 Apr 2019)
Comments: 23 pages, 7 figures, 10 tables
Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)
Journal reference: ApJ, 875, 2 (2019)
DOI: 10.3847/1538-4357/ab11d3
Cite as: arXiv:1904.10474 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:1904.10474v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Thea Kozakis
[v1] Tue, 23 Apr 2019 18:02:23 UTC (374 KB)

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) 🖖🏻