Scaling the Earth: A Sensitivity Analysis of Terrestrial Exoplanetary Interior Models
Unterborn et al
An exoplanet's structure and composition are first-order controls of the planet's habitability. We explore which aspects of bulk terrestrial planet composition and interior structure affect the chief observables of an exoplanet: its mass and radius. We apply these perturbations to the Earth, the planet we know best. Using the mineral physics toolkit BurnMan to self-consistently calculate mass-radius models, we find that core radius, presence of light elements in the core and an upper-mantle consisting of low-pressure silicates have the largest effect on the final calculated mass at a given radius, with mantle composition being secondary. We further apply this model to determine the interior composition of Kepler-36b, finding that it is likely structurally similar to the Earth with Si/Fe = 1.14 compared to Earth's Si/Fe = 1 and Sun's Si/Fe = 1.19. We expand these results provide a grid of terrestrial mass-radius models for determining whether exoplanets are indeed "Earth-like" as bound by their composition and structure.