Monday, May 9, 2016

How Strong is the Extreme Ultraviolet Light on the TRAPPiST-1 Worlds

Strong XUV irradiation of the Earth-sized exoplanets orbiting the ultracool dwarf TRAPPIST-1


Wheatley et al


We present an XMM-Newton X-ray observation of TRAPPIST-1, which is an ultracool dwarf star recently discovered to host three transiting and temperate Earth-sized planets. We find the star is a relatively strong and variable coronal X-ray source with an X-ray luminosity similar to that of the quiet Sun, despite its much lower bolometric luminosity. We find L_x/L_bol=2-4x10^-4, with the total XUV emission in the range L_xuv/L_bol=6-9x10^-4. Using a simple energy-limited model we show that the relatively close-in Earth-sized planets, which span the classical habitable zone of the star, are subject to sufficient X-ray and EUV irradiation to significantly alter their primary and perhaps secondary atmospheres. Understanding whether this high-energy irradiation makes the planets more or less habitable is a complex question, but our measured fluxes will be an important input to the necessary models of atmospheric evolution.

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