Volume 601, May 2017
|Number of page(s)||7|
|Section||Planets and planetary systems|
|Published online||10 May 2017|
The effect of multiple heat sources on exomoon habitable zones
1 Konkoly Thege Miklós Astronomical Institute, Research Centre for Astronomy and Earth Sciences, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, 1121 Konkoly Thege Miklós út 15-17, Budapest, Hungary
2 Geodetic and Geophysical Institute, Research Centre for Astronomy and Earth Sciences, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, 9400 Csatkai Endre u. 6-8., Sopron, Hungary
3 Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Justus-von-Liebig-Weg 3, 37077 Göttingen, Germany
4 Department of Astrophysical Sciences, Princeton University, 4 Ivy Lane, Peyton Hall, Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
5 The Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe (WPI), University of Tokyo, 5-1-5 Kashiwanoha, Kashiwa, 227-8583 Chiba, Japan
Received: 1 February 2017
Accepted: 6 March 2017
With dozens of Jovian and super-Jovian exoplanets known to orbit their host stars in or near the stellar habitable zones, it has recently been suggested that moons the size of Mars could offer abundant surface habitats beyond the solar system. Several searches for such exomoons are now underway, and the exquisite astronomical data quality of upcoming space missions and ground-based extremely large telescopes could make the detection and characterization of exomoons possible in the near future. Here we explore the effects of tidal heating on the potential of Mars- to Earth-sized satellites to host liquid surface water, and we compare the tidal heating rates predicted by tidal equilibrium model and a viscoelastic model. In addition to tidal heating, we consider stellar radiation, planetary illumination and thermal heat from the planet. However, the effects of a possible moon atmosphere are neglected. We map the circumplanetary habitable zone for different stellar distances in specific star-planet-satellite configurations, and determine those regions where tidal heating dominates over stellar radiation. We find that the “thermostat effect” of the viscoelastic model is significant not just at large distances from the star, but also in the stellar habitable zone, where stellar radiation is prevalent. We also find that tidal heating of Mars-sized moons with eccentricities between 0.001 and 0.01 is the dominant energy source beyond 3–5 AU from a Sun-like star and beyond 0.4–0.6 AU from an M3 dwarf star. The latter would be easier to detect (if they exist), but their orbital stability might be under jeopardy due to the gravitational perturbations from the star.
Key words: astrobiology / methods: numerical / planets and satellites: general / planets and satellites: interiors
© ESO, 2017
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