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Stability of additional planets in and around the habitable zone of the HD 47186 Planetary System  [PDF]
Ravi kumar Kopparapu,Sean N. Raymond,Rory Barnes
Physics , 2009, DOI: 10.1088/0004-637X/695/2/L181
Abstract: We study the dynamical stability of an additional, potentially habitable planet in the HD 47186 planetary system. Two planets are currently known in this system: a "hot Neptune" with a period of 4.08 days and a Saturn-mass planet with a period of 3.7 years. Here we consider the possibility that one or more undetected planets exist between the two known planets and possibly within the habitable zone in this system. Given the relatively low masses of the known planets, additional planets could have masses $\lsim 10 \mearth$, and hence be terrestrial-like and further improving potential habitability. We perform $N$-body simulations to identify the stable zone between planets $b$ and $c$ and find that much of the inner habitable zone can harbor a $10 \mearth$ planet. With the current radial-velocity threshold of $\sim 1$ m/s, an additional planet should be detectable if it lies at the inner edge of the habitable zone at 0.8 AU. We also show that the stable zone could contain two additional planets of $10 \mearth$ each if their eccentricities are lower than $\sim 0.3$.
The Solar Neighborhood. XXXIV. A Search for Planets Orbiting Nearby M Dwarfs using Astrometry  [PDF]
John C. Lurie,Todd J. Henry,Wei-Chun Jao,Samuel N. Quinn,Jennifer G. Winters,Philip A. Ianna,David W. Koerner,Adric R. Riedel,John P. Subasavage
Physics , 2014, DOI: 10.1088/0004-6256/148/5/91
Abstract: Astrometric measurements are presented for seven nearby stars with previously detected planets: six M dwarfs (GJ 317, GJ 667C, GJ 581, GJ 849, GJ 876, and GJ 1214) and one K dwarf (BD $-$10 3166). Measurements are also presented for six additional nearby M dwarfs without known planets, but which are more favorable to astrometric detections of low mass companions, as well as three binary systems for which we provide astrometric orbit solutions. Observations have baselines of three to thirteen years, and were made as part of the RECONS long-term astrometry and photometry program at the CTIO/SMARTS 0.9m telescope. We provide trigonometric parallaxes and proper motions for all 16 systems, and perform an extensive analysis of the astrometric residuals to determine the minimum detectable companion mass for the 12 M dwarfs not having close stellar secondaries. For the six M dwarfs with known planets, we are not sensitive to planets, but can rule out the presence of all but the least massive brown dwarfs at periods of 2 - 12 years. For the six more astrometrically favorable M dwarfs, we conclude that none have brown dwarf companions, and are sensitive to companions with masses as low as 1 $M_{Jup}$ for periods longer than two years. In particular, we conclude that Proxima Centauri has no Jovian companions at orbital periods of 2 - 12 years. These results complement previously published M dwarf planet occurrence rates by providing astrometrically determined upper mass limits on potential super-Jupiter companions at orbits of two years and longer. As part of a continuing survey, these results are consistent with the paucity of super-Jupiter and brown dwarf companions we find among the over 250 red dwarfs within 25 pc observed longer than five years in our astrometric program.
Setting the Stage for Habitable Planets  [PDF]
Guillermo Gonzalez
Physics , 2014, DOI: 10.3390/life4010035
Abstract: Our understanding of the processes that are relevant to the formation and maintenance of habitable planetary systems is advancing at a rapid pace, both from observation and theory. The present review focuses on recent research that bears on this topic and includes discussions of processes occurring in astrophysical, geophysical and climatic contexts, as well as the temporal evolution of planetary habitability. Special attention is given to recent observations of exoplanets and their host stars and the theories proposed to explain the observed trends. Recent theories about the early evolution of the Solar System and how they relate to its habitability are also summarized. Unresolved issues requiring additional research are pointed out, and a framework is provided for estimating the number of habitable planets in the Universe.
On the radius of habitable planets  [PDF]
Yann Alibert
Physics , 2013, DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/201322293
Abstract: The conditions that a planet must fulfill to be habitable are not precisely known. However, it is comparatively easier to define conditions under which a planet is very likely not habitable. Finding such conditions is important as it can help select, in an ensemble of potentially observable planets, which ones should be observed in greater detail for characterization studies. Assuming, as in the Earth, that the presence of a C-cycle is a necessary condition for long-term habitability, we derive, as a function of the planetary mass, a radius above which a planet is likely not habitable. We compute the maximum radius a planet can have to fulfill two constraints: surface conditions compatible with the existence of liquid water, and no ice layer at the bottom of a putative global ocean. We demonstrate that, above a given radius, these two constraints cannot be met. We compute internal structure models of planets, using a five-layer model (core, inner mantle, outer mantle, ocean, and atmosphere), for different masses and composition of the planets (in particular, the Fe/Si ratio of the planet). Our results show that for planets in the Super-Earth mass range (1-12 Mearth), the maximum that a planet, with a composition similar to that of the Earth, can have varies between 1.7 and 2.2 Rearth. This radius is reduced when considering planets with higher Fe/Si ratios and taking radiation into account when computing the gas envelope structure. These results can be used to infer, from radius and mass determinations using high-precision transit observations like those that will soon be performed by the CHaracterizing ExOPlanet Satellite (CHEOPS), which planets are very likely not habitable, and therefore which ones should be considered as best targets for further habitability studies.}
The Stability and Prospects of the Detection of Terrestrial/Habitable Planets in Multiplanet and Multiple Star Systems  [PDF]
Nader Haghighipour
Physics , 2009, DOI: 10.1051/eas/1042039
Abstract: Given the tendency of planets to form in multiples, and the observational evidence in support of the existence of potential planet-hosting stars in binaries or clusters, it is expected that extrasolar terrestrial planes are more likely to be found in multiple body systems. This paper discusses the prospects of the detection of terrestrial/habitable planets in multibody systems by presenting the results of a study of the long-term stability of these objects in systems with multiple giant planets (particularly those in eccentric and/or in mean-motion resonant orbits), systems with close-in Jupiter-like bodies, and systems of binary stars. The results of simulations show that while short-period terrestrial-class objects that are captured in near mean-motion resonances with migrating giant planets are potentially detectable via transit photometry or the measurement of the variations of the transit-timing due to their close-in Jovian-mass planetary companions, the prospect of the detection of habitable planets with radial velocity technique is higher in systems with multiple giant planets outside the habitable zone and binary systems with moderately separated stellar companions.
On the probability of habitable planets  [PDF]
Francois Forget
Physics , 2012, DOI: 10.1017/S1473550413000128
Abstract: In the past 15 years, astronomers have revealed that a significant fraction of the stars should harbor planets and that it is likely that terrestrial planets are abundant in our galaxy. Among these planets, how many are habitable, i.e. suitable for life and its evolution? These questions have been discussed for years and we are slowly making progress. Liquid water remains the key criterion for habitability. It can exist in the interior of a variety of planetary bodies, but it is usually assumed that liquid water at the surface interacting with rocks and light is necessary for the emergence of a life able to modify its environment and evolve. A first key issue is thus to understand the climatic conditions allowing surface liquid water assuming a suitable atmosphere. This have been studied with global mean 1D models which has defined the "classical habitable zone", the range of orbital distances within which worlds can maintain liquid water on their surfaces (Kasting et al. 1993). A new generation of 3D climate models based on universal equations and tested on bodies in the solar system is now available to explore with accuracy climate regimes that could locally allow liquid water. A second key issue is now to better understand the processes which control the composition and the evolution of the atmospheres of exoplanets, and in particular the geophysical feedbacks that seems to be necessary to maintain a continuously habitable climate. From that point of view, it is not impossible that the Earth's case may be special and uncommon.
Stabilizing Cloud Feedback Dramatically Expands the Habitable Zone of Tidally Locked Planets  [PDF]
Jun Yang,Nicolas B. Cowan,Dorian S. Abbot
Physics , 2013, DOI: 10.1088/2041-8205/771/2/L45
Abstract: The habitable zone (HZ) is the circumstellar region where a planet can sustain surface liquid water. Searching for terrestrial planets in the HZ of nearby stars is the stated goal of ongoing and planned extrasolar planet surveys. Previous estimates of the inner edge of the HZ were based on one-dimensional radiative-convective models. The most serious limitation of these models is the inability to predict cloud behavior. Here we use global climate models with sophisticated cloud schemes to show that due to a stabilizing cloud feedback, tidally locked planets can be habitable at twice the stellar flux found by previous studies. This dramatically expands the HZ and roughly doubles the frequency of habitable planets orbiting red dwarf stars. At high stellar flux, strong convection produces thick water clouds near the substellar location that greatly increase the planetary albedo and reduce surface temperatures. Higher insolation produces stronger substellar convection and therefore higher albedo, making this phenomenon a stabilizing climate feedback. Substellar clouds also effectively block outgoing radiation from the surface, reducing or even completely reversing the thermal emission contrast between dayside and nightside. The presence of substellar water clouds and the resulting clement surface conditions will therefore be detectable with the James Webb Space Telescope.
The Habitable Zone of Inhabited Planets  [PDF]
Jorge I. Zuluaga,Juan F. Salazar,Pablo Cuartas-Restrepo,German Poveda
Physics , 2014,
Abstract: In this paper we discuss and illustrate the hypothesis that life substantially alters the state of a planetary environment and therefore, modifies the limits of the HZ as estimated for an uninhabited planet. This hypothesis lead to the introduction of the Habitable Zone for Inhabited planets (hereafter InHZ), defined here as the region where the complex interaction between life and its abiotic environment is able to produce plausible equilibrium states with the necessary physical conditions for the existence and persistence of life itself. We support our hypothesis of an InHZ with three theoretical arguments, multiple evidences coming from observations of the Earth system, several conceptual experiments and illustrative numerical simulations. Conceptually the diference between the InHZ and the Abiotic HZ (AHZ) depends on unique and robust properties of life as an emergent physical phenomenon and not necesarily on the particular life forms bearing in the planet. Our aim here is to provide conceptual basis for the development of InHZ models incorporating consistently life-environment interactions. Although previous authors have explored the effects of life on habitability there is a gap in research developing the reasons why life should be systematically included at determining the HZ limits. We do not provide here definitive limits to the InHZ but we show through simple numerical models (as a parable of an inhabited planet) how the limits of the AHZ could be modified by including plausible interactions between biota and its environment. These examples aim also at posing the question that if limits of the HZ could be modified by the presence of life in those simple dynamical systems how will those limits change if life is included in established models of the AHZ.
Sensitivity of Transit Searches to Habitable Planets  [PDF]
Andrew Gould,Joshua Pepper,D. L. DePoy
Physics , 2002, DOI: 10.1086/376852
Abstract: Photon-limited transit surveys in V band are in principle about 20 times more sensitive to planets of fixed size in the habitable zone around M stars than G stars. In I band the ratio is about 400. The advantages that the habitable zone lies closer and that the stars are smaller (together with the numerical superiority of M stars) more than compensate for the reduced signal due to the lower luminosity of the later-type stars. That is, M stars can yield reliable transit detections at much fainter apparent magnitudes than G stars. However, to achieve this greater sensitivity, the later-type stars must be monitored to these correspondingly fainter magnitudes, which can engender several practical problems. We show that with modest modifications, the Kepler mission could extend its effective sensitivity from its current M_V=6 to M_V=9. This would not capture the whole M dwarf peak, but would roughly triple its sensitivity to Earth-like planets in the habitable zone. However, to take advantage of the huge bump in the sensitivity function at M_V=12 would require major changes.
Habitable worlds with no signs of life  [PDF]
Charles S Cockell
Physics , 2013, DOI: 10.1098/rsta.2013.0082
Abstract: 'Most habitable worlds in the cosmos will have no remotely detectable signs of life' is proposed as a biological hypothesis to be tested in studies of exoplanets. Habitable planets could be discovered elsewhere in the Universe, yet there are many hypothetical scenarios whereby the search for life on them could yield negative results. Scenarios for habitable worlds with no remotely detectable signatures of life include: planets that are habitable, but have no biosphere (Uninhabited Habitable Worlds); planets with life, but lacking any detectable surface signatures of that life (laboratory examples are provided) and planets with life, where the concentration of atmospheric gases produced or removed by biota are impossible to disentangle from abiotic processes because of the lack of detailed knowledge of planetary conditions (the 'problem of exoplanet thermodynamic uncertainty'). A rejection of the hypothesis would require that the origin of life usually occurs on habitable planets, that spectrally detectable pigments and/or metabolisms that produce unequivocal biosignature gases (e.g. oxygenic photosynthesis) usually evolve and that the organisms that harbour them usually achieve a sufficient biomass to produce biosignatures detectable to alien astronomers.
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