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A decreased probability of habitable planet formation around low-mass stars

Raymond, Sean N. and Scalo, John and Meadows, Victoria S. (2007) A decreased probability of habitable planet formation around low-mass stars. Astrophysical Journal, 669 (1). pp. 606-614. ISSN 0004-637X. doi:10.1086/521587.

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Smaller terrestrial planets (P0.3 M⊕) are less likely to retain the substantial atmospheres and ongoing tectonic activity probably required to support life. A key element in determining whether sufficiently massive sustainably habitable planets can form is the availability of solid planet-forming material. We use dynamical simulations of terrestrial planet formation from planetary embryos and simple scaling arguments to explore the implications of correlations between terrestrial planet mass, disk mass, and the mass of the parent star. We assume that the protoplanetary disk mass scales with stellar mass as M-disk ∝ fMh*(h), where f measures the relative disk mass and 1/2 < h < 2, so that disk mass decreases with decreasing stellar mass. We consider systems without Jovian planets, based on current models and observations for M stars. We assume the mass of a planet formed in some annulus of a disk with given parameters is proportional to the disk mass in that annulus and show with a suite of simulations of late-stage accretion that the adopted prescription is surprisingly accurate. Our results suggest that the fraction of systems with sufficient disk mass to form >0.3 M⊕ habitable planets decreases for low-mass stars for every realistic combination of parameters. This habitable fraction is small for stellar masses below a mass in the interval 0.5-0.8 M☉, depending on disk parameters, an interval that excludes most M stars. Radial mixing and therefore water delivery are inefficient in the lower mass disks commonly found around low-mass stars, such that terrestrial planets in the habitable zones of most low-mass stars are likely to be small and dry.

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Additional Information:© 2007 American Astronomical Society. Received 2006 March 2; accepted 2007 July 11. This paper benefited from the referee’s thoughtful comments and from discussions with Jim Kasting. This work was performed by the NASA Astrobiology Institute’s Virtual Planetary Laboratory Lead Team, supported via NASA CAN-00-OSS-01. J.M.S. was supported by NASA Exobiology grant NNG04GK43G. S.N.R. was supported by an appointment to the NASA Postdoctoral Program at the University of Colorado’s Center for Astrobiology, administered by Oak Ridge Associated Universities through a contract with NASA. Simulations were performed at Weber State University and JPL using CONDOR (see
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Subject Keywords:astrobiology; planetary systems: formation; planetary systems: protoplanetary disks; stars: low-mass; brown dwarfs
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Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:RAYapj07
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:12488
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:15 Dec 2008 20:53
Last Modified:08 Nov 2021 22:29

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