Habitable Zones & Global Climate

Internal Water Storage Capacity of Terrestrial Planets and the Effect of Hydration on the M-R Relation

By Keith Cowing
December 13, 2020
Filed under
Internal Water Storage Capacity of Terrestrial Planets and the Effect of Hydration on the M-R Relation

Understanding the chemical interactions between water and Mg-silicates or iron is essential to constrain the interiors of water-rich planets.

Hydration effects have, however, been mostly neglected by the astrophysics community so far. As such effects are unlikely to have major impacts on theoretical mass-radius relations this is justified as long as the measurement uncertainties are large. However, upcoming missions, such as the PLATO mission (scheduled launch 2026), are envisaged to reach a precision of up to β‰ˆ3% and β‰ˆ10% for radii and masses, respectively.

As a result, we may soon enter an area in exoplanetary research where various physical and chemical effects such as hydration can no longer be ignored. Our goal is to construct interior models for planets that include reliable prescriptions for hydration of the cores and the mantles. These models can be used to refine previous results for which hydration has been neglected and to guide future characterization of observed exoplanets.

We have developed numerical tools to solve for the structure of multi-layered planets with variable boundary conditions and compositions. Here we consider three types of planets: dry interiors, hydrated interiors and dry interiors + surface ocean where the ocean mass fraction corresponds to the mass fraction of H2O equivalent in the hydrated case.

We find H/OH storage capacities in the hydrated planets equivalent to 0βˆ’6 wt% H2O corresponding to up to β‰ˆ800 km deep ocean layers. In the mass range 0.1≀M/MβŠ•β‰€3 the effect of hydration on the total radius is found to be ≀2.5% whereas the effect of differentiation into an isolated surface ocean is ≀5 %. Furthermore, we find that our results are very sensitive to the bulk composition.

Oliver Shah, Yann Alibert, Ravit Helled, Klaus Mezger

Comments: 34 pages
Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)
Cite as: arXiv:2012.06455 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:2012.06455v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Oliver Shah
[v1] Fri, 11 Dec 2020 16:22:18 UTC (4,814 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) πŸ––πŸ»