Effect of UV Radiation on the Spectral Fingerprints of Earth-like Planets Orbiting M dwarfs
Rugheimer et al
We model the atmospheres and spectra of Earth-like planets orbiting the entire grid of M dwarfs for active and inactive stellar models with Teff = 2300K to Teff = 3800K and for six observed MUSCLES M dwarfs with UV radiation data. We set the Earth-like planets at the 1AU equivalent distance and show spectra from the VIS to IR (0.4μm - 20μm) to compare detectability of features in different wavelength ranges with JWST and other future ground- and spaced-based missions to characterize exo-Earths. We focus on the effect of UV activity levels on detectable atmospheric features that indicate habitability on Earth, namely: H2O, O3, CH4, N2O and CH3Cl.
To observe signatures of life - O2/O3 in combination with reducing species like CH4, we find that early and active M dwarfs are the best targets of the M star grid for future telescopes. The O2 spectral feature at 0.76μm is increasingly difficult to detect in reflected light of later M dwarfs due to low stellar flux in that wavelength region. N2O, another biosignature detectable in the IR, builds up to observable concentrations in our planetary models around M dwarfs with low UV flux. CH3Cl could become detectable, depending on the depth of the overlapping N2O feature.
We present a spectral database of Earth-like planets around cool stars for directly imaged planets as a framework for interpreting future lightcurves, direct imaging, and secondary eclipse measurements of the atmospheres of terrestrial planets in the HZ to design and assess future telescope capabilities.