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Effect of UV radiation on the spectral fingerprints of earth-like planets orbiting M stars

Authors
  • Rugheimer, S
  • Kaltenegger, L
  • Segura, A
  • Linsky, J
  • Mohanty, S
Publication Date
Jun 10, 2015
Source
Spiral - Imperial College Digital Repository
Keywords
License
Unknown

Abstract

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 = 2300 K to Teff = 3800 K and for six observed MUSCLES M dwarfs with UV radiation data. We set the Earth-like planets at the 1 AU equivalent distance and show spectra from the visible to IR (0.4–20 μm) to compare detectability of features in different wavelength ranges with the James Webb Space Telescope 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 0.76 μm is increasingly difficult to detect in reflected light of later M dwarfs owing 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 light curves, direct imaging, and secondary eclipse measurements of the atmospheres of terrestrial planets in the habitable zone to design and assess future telescope capabilities.

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