skip to main content
OSTI.GOV title logo U.S. Department of Energy
Office of Scientific and Technical Information

Title: THE ULTRAVIOLET RADIATION ENVIRONMENT AROUND M DWARF EXOPLANET HOST STARS

Abstract

The spectral and temporal behavior of exoplanet host stars is a critical input to models of the chemistry and evolution of planetary atmospheres. Ultraviolet photons influence the atmospheric temperature profiles and production of potential biomarkers on Earth-like planets around these stars. At present, little observational or theoretical basis exists for understanding the ultraviolet spectra of M dwarfs, despite their critical importance to predicting and interpreting the spectra of potentially habitable planets as they are obtained in the coming decades. Using observations from the Hubble Space Telescope, we present a study of the UV radiation fields around nearby M dwarf planet hosts that covers both far-UV (FUV) and near-UV (NUV) wavelengths. The combined FUV+NUV spectra are publicly available in machine-readable format. We find that all six exoplanet host stars in our sample (GJ 581, GJ 876, GJ 436, GJ 832, GJ 667C, and GJ 1214) exhibit some level of chromospheric and transition region UV emission. No 'UV-quiet' M dwarfs are observed. The bright stellar Ly{alpha} emission lines are reconstructed, and we find that the Ly{alpha} line fluxes comprise {approx}37%-75% of the total 1150-3100 A flux from most M dwarfs; {approx}>10{sup 3} times the solar value. We develop an empirical scaling relationmore » between Ly{alpha} and Mg II emission, to be used when interstellar H I attenuation precludes the direct observation of Ly{alpha}. The intrinsic unreddened flux ratio is F(Ly{alpha})/F(Mg II) = 10 {+-} 3. The F(FUV)/F(NUV) flux ratio, a driver for abiotic production of the suggested biomarkers O{sub 2} and O{sub 3}, is shown to be {approx}0.5-3 for all M dwarfs in our sample, >10{sup 3} times the solar ratio. For the four stars with moderate signal-to-noise Cosmic Origins Spectrograph time-resolved spectra, we find UV emission line variability with amplitudes of 50%-500% on 10{sup 2}-10{sup 3} s timescales. This effect should be taken into account in future UV transiting planet studies, including searches for O{sub 3} on Earth-like planets. Finally, we observe relatively bright H{sub 2} fluorescent emission from four of the M dwarf exoplanetary systems (GJ 581, GJ 876, GJ 436, and GJ 832). Additional modeling work is needed to differentiate between a stellar photospheric or possible exoplanetary origin for the hot (T(H{sub 2}) Almost-Equal-To 2000-4000 K) molecular gas observed in these objects.« less

Authors:
; ; ;  [1];  [2];  [3];  [4];  [5]; ;  [6]
  1. Center for Astrophysics and Space Astronomy, University of Colorado, 389 UCB, Boulder, CO 80309 (United States)
  2. JILA, University of Colorado and NIST, 440 UCB, Boulder, CO 80309 (United States)
  3. Exoplanets and Stellar Astrophysics Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD 20771 (United States)
  4. Center for Earth System Sciences, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084 (China)
  5. Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125 (United States)
  6. Instituto de Astronomsica del Espacio (CONICET-UBA), C.C. 67 Sucursal 28, 1428 Buenos Aires (Argentina)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22167109
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Journal Name:
Astrophysical Journal
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 763; Journal Issue: 2; Other Information: Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA); Journal ID: ISSN 0004-637X
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
79 ASTROPHYSICS, COSMOLOGY AND ASTRONOMY; AMBIENT TEMPERATURE; BIOLOGICAL MARKERS; FLUORESCENCE; HYDROGEN; PHOTONS; PLANETARY ATMOSPHERES; PLANETS; STARS; TELESCOPES; TIME RESOLUTION; ULTRAVIOLET RADIATION; ULTRAVIOLET SPECTRA

Citation Formats

France, Kevin, Froning, Cynthia S., Stocke, John T., Bushinsky, Rachel, Linsky, Jeffrey L., Roberge, Aki, Tian, Feng, Desert, Jean-Michel, Mauas, Pablo, Vieytes, Mariela, and Walkowicz, Lucianne M., E-mail: kevin.france@colorado.edu. THE ULTRAVIOLET RADIATION ENVIRONMENT AROUND M DWARF EXOPLANET HOST STARS. United States: N. p., 2013. Web. doi:10.1088/0004-637X/763/2/149.
France, Kevin, Froning, Cynthia S., Stocke, John T., Bushinsky, Rachel, Linsky, Jeffrey L., Roberge, Aki, Tian, Feng, Desert, Jean-Michel, Mauas, Pablo, Vieytes, Mariela, & Walkowicz, Lucianne M., E-mail: kevin.france@colorado.edu. THE ULTRAVIOLET RADIATION ENVIRONMENT AROUND M DWARF EXOPLANET HOST STARS. United States. doi:10.1088/0004-637X/763/2/149.
France, Kevin, Froning, Cynthia S., Stocke, John T., Bushinsky, Rachel, Linsky, Jeffrey L., Roberge, Aki, Tian, Feng, Desert, Jean-Michel, Mauas, Pablo, Vieytes, Mariela, and Walkowicz, Lucianne M., E-mail: kevin.france@colorado.edu. Fri . "THE ULTRAVIOLET RADIATION ENVIRONMENT AROUND M DWARF EXOPLANET HOST STARS". United States. doi:10.1088/0004-637X/763/2/149.
@article{osti_22167109,
title = {THE ULTRAVIOLET RADIATION ENVIRONMENT AROUND M DWARF EXOPLANET HOST STARS},
author = {France, Kevin and Froning, Cynthia S. and Stocke, John T. and Bushinsky, Rachel and Linsky, Jeffrey L. and Roberge, Aki and Tian, Feng and Desert, Jean-Michel and Mauas, Pablo and Vieytes, Mariela and Walkowicz, Lucianne M., E-mail: kevin.france@colorado.edu},
abstractNote = {The spectral and temporal behavior of exoplanet host stars is a critical input to models of the chemistry and evolution of planetary atmospheres. Ultraviolet photons influence the atmospheric temperature profiles and production of potential biomarkers on Earth-like planets around these stars. At present, little observational or theoretical basis exists for understanding the ultraviolet spectra of M dwarfs, despite their critical importance to predicting and interpreting the spectra of potentially habitable planets as they are obtained in the coming decades. Using observations from the Hubble Space Telescope, we present a study of the UV radiation fields around nearby M dwarf planet hosts that covers both far-UV (FUV) and near-UV (NUV) wavelengths. The combined FUV+NUV spectra are publicly available in machine-readable format. We find that all six exoplanet host stars in our sample (GJ 581, GJ 876, GJ 436, GJ 832, GJ 667C, and GJ 1214) exhibit some level of chromospheric and transition region UV emission. No 'UV-quiet' M dwarfs are observed. The bright stellar Ly{alpha} emission lines are reconstructed, and we find that the Ly{alpha} line fluxes comprise {approx}37%-75% of the total 1150-3100 A flux from most M dwarfs; {approx}>10{sup 3} times the solar value. We develop an empirical scaling relation between Ly{alpha} and Mg II emission, to be used when interstellar H I attenuation precludes the direct observation of Ly{alpha}. The intrinsic unreddened flux ratio is F(Ly{alpha})/F(Mg II) = 10 {+-} 3. The F(FUV)/F(NUV) flux ratio, a driver for abiotic production of the suggested biomarkers O{sub 2} and O{sub 3}, is shown to be {approx}0.5-3 for all M dwarfs in our sample, >10{sup 3} times the solar ratio. For the four stars with moderate signal-to-noise Cosmic Origins Spectrograph time-resolved spectra, we find UV emission line variability with amplitudes of 50%-500% on 10{sup 2}-10{sup 3} s timescales. This effect should be taken into account in future UV transiting planet studies, including searches for O{sub 3} on Earth-like planets. Finally, we observe relatively bright H{sub 2} fluorescent emission from four of the M dwarf exoplanetary systems (GJ 581, GJ 876, GJ 436, and GJ 832). Additional modeling work is needed to differentiate between a stellar photospheric or possible exoplanetary origin for the hot (T(H{sub 2}) Almost-Equal-To 2000-4000 K) molecular gas observed in these objects.},
doi = {10.1088/0004-637X/763/2/149},
journal = {Astrophysical Journal},
issn = {0004-637X},
number = 2,
volume = 763,
place = {United States},
year = {2013},
month = {2}
}