Northwestern University | 2019 Nov 11
First study to combine 3D climate modeling with chemistry explores M dwarf planets
In order to search for life in outer space, astronomers first need to know where to look. A new Northwestern University study will help astronomers narrow down the search.
The research team is the first to combine 3D climate modeling with atmospheric chemistry to explore the habitability of planets around M dwarf stars, which comprise about 70% of the total galactic population. Using this tool, the researchers have redefined the conditions that make a planet habitable by taking the star’s radiation and the planet’s rotation rate into account.
Among its findings, the Northwestern team ... discovered that only planets orbiting active stars — those that emit a lot of ultraviolet (UV) radiation — lose significant water to vaporization. Planets around inactive, or quiet, stars are more likely to maintain life-sustaining liquid water.
The researchers also found that planets with thin ozone layers, which have otherwise habitable surface temperatures, receive dangerous levels of UV dosages, making them hazardous for complex surface life. ...
Habitability and Spectroscopic Observability of Warm M-dwarf Exoplanets
Evaluated with a 3D Chemistry-Climate Model ~ Howard Chen et al