From Tatooine to Endor: the Climate of M-dwarf Planets

Ana Lobo
UC Irvine
Thursday, May 25, 2023
3:30 pm
RH 101 + Zoom Seminar


In the race to detect life beyond the Solar System, rocky M-dwarf planets are increasingly observable and offer exciting prospects. Climate studies of these planets often assume an ocean-covered world. However, M-dwarf habitable zone planets may struggle to acquire and retain water throughout their lifetimes, suffering from enhanced heating and high-energy radiation during early stellar evolution, and persistent stellar flares, such that water-limited land planets may be especially common. Land planets can have uniquely diverse climates, and our recent work shows that, unlike aquaplanets, they can be in a “terminator habitability” climate regime. Land planets can sustain larger temperature gradients, with scorching dayside and freezing nightside temperatures, such that their habitable regions would be found at the terminator. In this talk, I will show how, based on these results and observational advantages for arid planets, land planets could be particularly attractive candidates for early detections of habitability.



Kevork Abazajian