Habitable Zones & Global Climate

Photosynthesis On Exoplanets and Exomoons From Reflected Light

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
July 30, 2019
Filed under
Photosynthesis On Exoplanets and Exomoons From Reflected Light

Photosynthesis offers a convenient means of sustaining biospheres. We quantify the constraints for photosynthesis to be functional on the permanent nightside of tidally locked rocky exoplanets via reflected light from their exomoons.

We show that the exomoons must be at least half the size of Earth’s moon in order for photosynthesis to operate. This scenario of photosynthesis is unlikely for exoplanets around late-type M-dwarfs due to the low likelihood of large exomoons and their orbital instability over long timescales. We also investigate the prospects for photosynthesis on habitable exomoons via reflected light from the giant planets that they orbit. Our analysis indicates that such photosynthetic biospheres are potentially sustainable on these moons except those around late-type M-dwarfs.

Manasvi Lingam, Abraham Loeb
(Submitted on 29 Jul 2019)

Comments: 11 pages; 3 figures
Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP); Solar and Stellar Astrophysics (astro-ph.SR)
Cite as: arXiv:1907.12576 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:1907.12576v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Manasvi Lingam
[v1] Mon, 29 Jul 2019 18:01:27 UTC (184 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) 🖖🏻