The effects of stellar winds on the magnetospheres and potential habitability of exoplanets

See, V. and Jardine, M. and Vidotto, A. A. and Petit, P. and Marsden, S. C. and Jeffers, S. V. and do Nascimento, J. D. Jr. (2014) The effects of stellar winds on the magnetospheres and potential habitability of exoplanets. Astronomy and Astrophysics, 570 (A99). pp. 1-10. ISSN 0004-6361

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Abstract

Context. The principle definition of habitability for exoplanets is whether they can sustain liquid water on their surfaces, i.e. that they orbit within the habitable zone. However, the planet's magnetosphere should also be considered, since without it, an exoplanet's atmosphere may be eroded away by stellar winds.
Aims: The aim of this paper is to investigate magnetospheric protection of a planet from the effects of stellar winds from solar-mass stars.
Methods: We study hypothetical Earth-like exoplanets orbiting in the host star's habitable zone for a sample of 124 solar-mass stars. These are targets that have been observed by the Bcool Collaboration. Using two wind models, we calculate the magnetospheric extent of each exoplanet. These wind models are computationally inexpensive and allow the community to quickly estimate the magnetospheric size of magnetised Earth-analogues orbiting cool stars.
Results: Most of the simulated planets in our sample can maintain a magnetosphere of ~5 Earth radii or larger. This suggests that magnetised Earth analogues in the habitable zones of solar analogues are able to protect their atmospheres and is in contrast to planets around young active M dwarfs. In general, we find that Earth-analogues around solar-type stars, of age 1.5 Gyr or older, can maintain at least a Paleoarchean Earth sized magnetosphere. Our results indicate that planets around 0.6-0.8 solar-mass stars on the low activity side of the Vaughan-Preston gap are the optimum observing targets for habitable Earth analogues.


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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: © The European Southern Observatory (ESO) 2014. This publication is copyright. It may be reproduced in whole or in part for the purposes of study, research, or review, but is subject to the inclusion of an acknowledgment of the source.
Faculty / Department / School: Current - Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences - School of Agricultural, Computational and Environmental Sciences
Date Deposited: 08 Mar 2015 07:03
Last Modified: 07 Jul 2016 06:14
Uncontrolled Keywords: planets and satellites; magnetic fields; planet-star interactions; stars; low-mass; mass-loss
Fields of Research : 02 Physical Sciences > 0201 Astronomical and Space Sciences > 020110 Stellar Astronomy and Planetary Systems
02 Physical Sciences > 0201 Astronomical and Space Sciences > 020107 Mesospheric, Ionospheric and Magnetospheric Physics
02 Physical Sciences > 0201 Astronomical and Space Sciences > 020101 Astrobiology
Socio-Economic Objective: E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970102 Expanding Knowledge in the Physical Sciences
Identification Number or DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/201424323
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/26609

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