Thursday, January 29, 2015

M Dwarfs may NOT be Able to Host Habitable Exoplanets due to EUV

An upper limit on the ratio between the Extreme Ultraviolet and the bolometric luminosities of stars hosting habitable planets




A large number of terrestrial planets in the habitable zone of stars of different age and luminosities has already been discovered and many are expected to be discovered in near future. However, owing to the lack of knowledge on the atmospheric properties, the ambient environment of such planets are unknown. It is known that sufficient amount of the Extreme Ultraviolet (EUV) radiation from the star can drive hydrodynamic outflow of hydrogen that may drag heavier species from the atmosphere of the planet. If the rate of mass loss is sufficiently high then substantial amount of volatiles would escape causing the planet to become inhabitable. Considering energy-limited hydrodynamical mass loss with an escape rate that causes oxygen to escape along with hydrogen, I present an upper limit for the ratio between the EUV and the bolometric luminosities of stars which constrains the habitability of planets around them . Application of the limit to planet-hosting stars with known EUV luminosities implies that many M-type of stars should not have habitable planets around them.

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