Exoplanets & Exomoons

A Target List For Searching For Habitable Exomoons

By Keith Cowing
April 26, 2022
Filed under
A Target List For Searching For Habitable Exomoons
Habitability probability as a function of the number of test cases for ten planets. Solid curves: both mass and radius of the planet is known. Dashed curve: only the minimum mass of the planet is known. Dotted curve: only the radius of the planet is known.

We investigate the habitability of hypothethical moons orbiting known exoplanets. This study focuses on big, rocky exomoons that are capable of maintaining a significant atmosphere.

To determine their habitability, we calculate the incident stellar radiation and the tidal heating flux arising in the moons as the two main contributors to the energy budget. We use the runaway greenhouse and the maximum greenhouse flux limits as a definition of habitability. For each exoplanet we run our calculations for plausible ranges of physical and orbital parameters for the moons and the planet using a Monte Carlo approach.

We calculate the moon habitability probability for each planet which is the fraction of the investigated cases that lead to habitable conditions. Based on our results, we provide a target list for observations of known exoplanets of which the top 10 planets have more than 50\% chance for hosting habitable moons on stable orbits. Two especially promising candidates are Kepler-62~f and Kepler-16~b, both of them with known masses and radii. Our target list can help to detect the first habitable exomoon.

Vera Dobos, András Haris, Inga E. E. Kamp, Floris F. S. van der Tak

Comments: accepted for publication in MNRAS, 10 pages
Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)
Cite as: arXiv:2204.11614 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:2204.11614v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Vera Dobos
[v1] Mon, 25 Apr 2022 12:43:37 UTC (130 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) 🖖🏻