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Title: Is Proxima Centauri b Habitable? A Study of Atmospheric Loss

Abstract

We address the important question of whether the newly discovered exoplanet, Proxima Centauri b (PCb), is capable of retaining an atmosphere over long periods of time. This is done by adapting a sophisticated multi-species MHD model originally developed for Venus and Mars and computing the ion escape losses from PCb. The results suggest that the ion escape rates are about two orders of magnitude higher than the terrestrial planets of our Solar system if PCb is unmagnetized. In contrast, if the planet does have an intrinsic dipole magnetic field, the rates are lowered for certain values of the stellar wind dynamic pressure, but they are still higher than the observed values for our solar system’s terrestrial planets. These results must be interpreted with due caution since most of the relevant parameters for PCb remain partly or wholly unknown.

Authors:
 [1];  [2];  [3];  [4]
  1. Department of Astrophysical Sciences and Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544 (United States)
  2. Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138 (United States)
  3. Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095 (United States)
  4. Lowell Center for Space Science and Technology, University of Massachusetts, Lowell, MA 01854 (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22654517
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Journal Name:
Astrophysical Journal Letters
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 837; Journal Issue: 2; Other Information: Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA); Journal ID: ISSN 2041-8205
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
79 ASTROPHYSICS, COSMOLOGY AND ASTRONOMY; DIPOLES; EVOLUTION; GALAXIES; LOSSES; MAGNETIC FIELDS; MAGNETOHYDRODYNAMICS; MARS PLANET; SATELLITE ATMOSPHERES; SATELLITES; SOLAR SYSTEM; STARS; STELLAR WINDS; VENUS PLANET

Citation Formats

Dong, Chuanfei, Lingam, Manasvi, Ma, Yingjuan, and Cohen, Ofer. Is Proxima Centauri b Habitable? A Study of Atmospheric Loss. United States: N. p., 2017. Web. doi:10.3847/2041-8213/AA6438.
Dong, Chuanfei, Lingam, Manasvi, Ma, Yingjuan, & Cohen, Ofer. Is Proxima Centauri b Habitable? A Study of Atmospheric Loss. United States. doi:10.3847/2041-8213/AA6438.
Dong, Chuanfei, Lingam, Manasvi, Ma, Yingjuan, and Cohen, Ofer. Fri . "Is Proxima Centauri b Habitable? A Study of Atmospheric Loss". United States. doi:10.3847/2041-8213/AA6438.
@article{osti_22654517,
title = {Is Proxima Centauri b Habitable? A Study of Atmospheric Loss},
author = {Dong, Chuanfei and Lingam, Manasvi and Ma, Yingjuan and Cohen, Ofer},
abstractNote = {We address the important question of whether the newly discovered exoplanet, Proxima Centauri b (PCb), is capable of retaining an atmosphere over long periods of time. This is done by adapting a sophisticated multi-species MHD model originally developed for Venus and Mars and computing the ion escape losses from PCb. The results suggest that the ion escape rates are about two orders of magnitude higher than the terrestrial planets of our Solar system if PCb is unmagnetized. In contrast, if the planet does have an intrinsic dipole magnetic field, the rates are lowered for certain values of the stellar wind dynamic pressure, but they are still higher than the observed values for our solar system’s terrestrial planets. These results must be interpreted with due caution since most of the relevant parameters for PCb remain partly or wholly unknown.},
doi = {10.3847/2041-8213/AA6438},
journal = {Astrophysical Journal Letters},
issn = {2041-8205},
number = 2,
volume = 837,
place = {United States},
year = {2017},
month = {3}
}