Surface And Oceanic Habitability Of Trappist-1 Planets Under The Impact Of Flares

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
August 23, 2020
Filed under
Surface And Oceanic Habitability Of Trappist-1 Planets Under The Impact Of Flares
Stellar flare

The discovery of potentially habitable planets around the ultracool dwarf star Trappist-1 naturally poses the question: could Trappist-1 planets be home to life?

These planets orbit very close to the host star and are most susceptible to the UV radiation emitted by the intense and frequent flares of Trappist-1. Here we calculate the UV spectra (100 – 450 nm) of a superflare observed on Trappist-1 with the K2 mission. We couple radiative transfer models to this spectra to estimate the UV surface flux on planets in the habitable zone of Trappist-1 (planets e, f, and g), assuming atmospheric scenarios based on a pre-biotic and an oxygenic atmosphere.

We quantify the impact of the UV radiation on living organisms on the surface and on a hypothetical planet ocean. Finally, we find that for non-oxygenic planets, UV resistant lifeforms would survive on the surface of planets f and g. Nevertheless, more fragile organisms (i.e. \textit{E. coli}) could be protected from the hazardous UV effects at ocean depths greater than 8m. If the planets have an ozone layer, any lifeforms studied here would survive in the HZ planets.

Raissa Estrela, Sourav Palit, Adriana Valio

Comments: 13 pages, 6 figures, accepted for publication in Astrobiology
Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP); Solar and Stellar Astrophysics (astro-ph.SR)
Cite as: arXiv:2008.09147 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:2008.09147v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Raissa Estrela
[v1] Thu, 20 Aug 2020 18:17:52 UTC (798 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) 🖖🏻