Scientists have studied the effect of stellar flares on planets in the TRAPPIST-1 system

(ORDO NEWS) — In a recent study published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters, an international team of scientists studied how flares on the TRAPPIST-1 star could affect the internal heating of its orbiting exoplanets.

The TRAPPIST-1 system is located approximately 39 light years from Earth. It includes at least seven potentially rocky exoplanets orbiting a star 12 times smaller than the mass of the Sun.

Since the parent star is smaller than the Sun, the orbits of the planets in the TRAPPIST-1 system are also much smaller than in our system.

How can this study help us understand the potential habitability of planets in the TRAPPIST-1 system?

“If we take the Earth as our starting point, geological activity has shaped the entire surface of the planet, and geological activity is ultimately driven by planetary cooling,” said Dr. Dan Bauer, co-author of the study.

“There are radioactive elements in the bowels of the Earth that release heat and allow geological processes to continue for more than 4.5 billion years.

However, the question arises whether all planets require radioactive elements to control geological processes that can create a habitable surface environment that allows life to develop.

While some other processes can generate heat within a planet, they are often short-lived or require special circumstances, leading to the hypothesis that geological activity (and habitable environment?) is rare.”

What makes this study intriguing is that TRAPPIST-1 is known to be an M-type star, much smaller than our Sun and emitting far less radiation.

“In our study, we examined how TRAPPIST-1 stellar flares affected the internal heat balance of planets orbiting a star and found that, especially for planets closest to the star, internal heating due to ohmic dissipation from flares is significant and can stimulate geological activity.

In addition, this process is long-term and may persist over geological time periods, potentially allowing the surface environment to evolve towards habitability or go through a series of habitable states.

Previously, the effect of stellar flares on habitability was generally considered to be destructive, for example, due to the destruction of the protective atmosphere that envelops the planet.

Our results present a different perspective, showing that

The results of the study indicate that the planetary cooling occurring on the TRAPPIST-1 planets is sufficient to stimulate geological activity that would result in denser atmospheres.

The researchers’ models also predict that the presence of a planetary magnetic field could amplify these heating results.


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