Influence of Stellar Superflares on the Atmospheric Chemistry of Tidal Locked Exoplanets


WHEN February 2, 2021
5 PM WHERE Zoom Webinar WHO Center for Space Science Open to the Public

In this talk, Dr. Chen presents results in studying the effects of repeated stellar flares on planets orbiting G-, K-, and M-stars using state-of-the-art 3D models. First, Dr. Chen will briefly present key conclusions from previous work simulating the atmospheres of rocky planets. Second, Dr. Chen will describe the methodology of this study by coupling an M-dwarf flare model to the 3D atmosphere model. Specifically, Dr. Chen will discuss how to compute realistic flare intensities, frequencies, and durations with a flare toolkit with data drawn from Hubble Space Telescope observational campaigns.

Dr. Chen will then present new results that recurring stellar flares drive planetary atmospheres around K- and M-dwarfs into new chemical equilibria that substantially deviate from their initial pre-flare regimes. This stems from increased M-dwarf proton fluences, changes in the latitudinal extensions of energetic particle deposition due to the absence of planetary magnetic fields, and transport via large-scale circulation and wave breaking. Using a newly published radiative transfer model, Dr. Chen will show that chemical compounds such as nitrous oxide (N2O) and nitric acid (HNO3) can be prominently observed throughout the entirety of the planet's orbit in active stellar systems, making these "beacons of life" highly amenable to detection by the James Webb Space Telescope and next-generation instruments.

Email for more details.

  • Howard Chen, Northwestern University, USA

In Collaboration with

UAE Space Agency

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