Volume 608, December 2017
|Number of page(s)||11|
|Section||Planets and planetary systems|
|Published online||19 December 2017|
Neutron star planets: Atmospheric processes and irradiation
1 Leiden Observatory, Leiden University, Neils Bohrweg 2, 2333 CA Leiden, The Netherlands
2 ASTRON, the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy, Postbus 2, 7900 AA Dwingeloo, The Netherlands
3 Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge, Madingley Road, Cambridge CB3 0HA, UK
Received: 4 May 2017
Accepted: 14 August 2017
Of the roughly 3000 neutron stars known, only a handful have sub-stellar companions. The most famous of these are the low-mass planets around the millisecond pulsar B1257+12. New evidence indicates that observational biases could still hide a wide variety of planetary systems around most neutron stars. We consider the environment and physical processes relevant to neutron star planets, in particular the effect of X-ray irradiation and the relativistic pulsar wind on the planetary atmosphere. We discuss the survival time of planet atmospheres and the planetary surface conditions around different classes of neutron stars, and define a neutron star habitable zone based on the presence of liquid water and retention of an atmosphere. Depending on as-yet poorly constrained aspects of the pulsar wind, both Super-Earths around B1257+12 could lie within its habitable zone.
Key words: astrobiology / planets and satellites: atmospheres / stars: neutron / pulsars: individual: PSR B1257+12
© ESO, 2017
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