Monday, December 8, 2014

ExoPlanetary Habitability Tied to System Dynamics

Dynamics of exoplanetary systems, links to their habitability


Bolmont et al


Our knowledge of planets' orbital dynamics, which was based on Solar System studies, has been challenged by the diversity of exoplanetary systems.

Around cool and ultra cool dwarfs, the influence of tides on the orbital and spin evolution of planets can strongly affect their climate and their capacity to host surface liquid water.

We illustrate the role of tides and dynamics with the extreme case of planets orbiting around brown dwarfs. In multiple planet systems, the eccentricity is excited by planet-planet interactions. Planets are therefore heated up from the inside by the tidally-induced friction. This process can heat a habitable zone planet to such a level that surface liquid water cannot exist.

We also talk about the newly discovered potentially habitable Earth-sized planet Kepler-186f. Given the poorly estimated age of the system, the planet could still be evolving towards synchronization and have a high obliquity or be pseudo-synchronized with a zero obliquity. These two configurations would have a different effect on the climate of this planet.

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