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UV surface environment of Earth-like planets orbiting FGKM stars through geological evolution

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Author(s)

S. Rugheimer, A. Segura, L. Kaltenegger, D. Sasselov

Abstract

The UV environment of a host star affects the photochemistry in the atmosphere, and ultimately the surface UV environment for terrestrial planets and therefore the conditions for the origin and evolution of life. We model the surface UV radiation environment for Earth-sized planets orbiting FGKM stars in the circumstellar Habitable Zone for Earth through its geological evolution. We explore four different types of atmospheres corresponding to an early-Earth atmosphere at 3.9 Gyr ago and three atmospheres covering the rise of oxygen to present-day levels at 2.0 Gyr ago, 0.8 Gyr ago, and modern Earth. In addition to calculating the UV flux on the surface of the planet, we model the biologically effective irradiance, using DNA damage as a proxy for biological damage. We find that a pre-biotic Earth (3.9 Gyr ago) orbiting an F0V star receives 6 times the biologically effective radiation as around the early Sun and 3520 times the modern Earth-Sun levels. A pre-biotic Earth orbiting GJ 581 (M3.5 V) receives 300 times less biologically effective radiation, about 2 times modern Earth-Sun levels. The UV fluxes calculated here provide a grid of model UV environments during the evolution of an Earth-like planet orbiting a range of stars. These models can be used as inputs into photo-biological experiments and for pre-biotic chemistry and early life evolution experiments.

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Details

Original languageEnglish
Article number137
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Volume806
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jun 2015

    Research areas

  • Astrobiology, Earth, Planets and satellites: surfaces, Planets and satellites: terrestrial planets

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