Tidal heating and the habitability of the TRAPPIST-1 exoplanets
Konkoly Observatory, Research Centre for Astronomy and Earth Sciences, Hungarian Academy of Sciences,
Konkoly Thege Miklós út 15-17,
2 Geodetic and Geophysical Institute, Research Centre for Astronomy and Earth Sciences, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Csatkai Endre u. 6-8, 9400 Sopron, Hungary
3 Tempus Public Foundation, Kéthly Anna tér 1, 1077 Budapest, Hungary
4 Gothard Astrophysical Observatory, ELTE Eötvös Loránd University, Szombathely, Szent Imre h. u. 112, Hungary
5 Planetary Science Institute, 1700 E. Ft. Lowell, Suite 106, Tucson, AZ 85719, USA
6 Sydney Institute for Astronomy, School of Physics A28, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia
Accepted: 10 February 2019
Context. New estimates of the masses and radii of the seven planets orbiting the ultracool M-dwarf TRAPPIST-1 star permit improved modelling of their compositions, heating by tidal dissipation, and removal of tidal heat by solid-state convection.
Aims. Here we compute the heat flux due to insolation and tidal heating for the inner four planets.
Methods. We apply a Maxwell viscoelastic rheology to compute the tidal response of the planets using the volume-weighted average of the viscosities and rigidities of the metal, rock, high-pressure ice, and liquid water/ice I layers.
Results. We show that TRAPPIST-1d and e can avoid entering a runaway greenhouse state. Planet e is the most likely to support a habitable environment, with Earth-like surface temperatures and possibly liquid water oceans. Planet d also avoids a runaway greenhouse, if its surface reflectance is at least as high as that of the Earth. Planets b and c, closer to the star, have heat fluxes high enough to trigger a runaway greenhouse and to support volcanism on the surfaces of their rock layers, rendering them too warm for life. Planets f, g, and h are too far from the star to experience significant tidal heating, and likely have solid ice surfaces with possible subsurface liquid water oceans.
Key words: planets and satellites: interiors / planets and satellites: terrestrial planets / methods: numerical / astrobiology
© ESO 2019