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Category:
Natural Sciences

Lecturer:
Dr. René Heller, Solar and Stellar Interiors Department, Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Göttingen

Place:
Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Lecture Hall, Königstuhl 17

Host:
Heidelberg Initiative for the Origins of Life (HIFOL)

Description:
The Earth does not contain most of the liquid water in the solar system. Instead, the icy moons around Jupiter and Saturn maintain huge subsurface water reservoirs worth several Earth oceans. With only one hundredth the mass of the Earth or less than a tenth the mass of Mars, Jupiter's moon Europa has long been suspected to be geologically dead with no internal heat source left to prevent it (or her) from becoming entirely frozen. The famous Laplace orbital resonance with Europa's neighboring moons Io and Ganymede, however, has kept its orbit elliptical for billions of years, which is the source of an internal tidal heat source that melts the subsurface ice. Many planets have now been found beyond the solar system, some of the most interesting of which orbit nearby red dwarf stars. Their system architectures resemble that of the Jovian moon system in many regards such as orbital mean motion resonances, the alignment of the orbital planes, the mean densities of the bodies suggesting rocky-water compositions etc. The ultimate questions is: could these extrasolar, Earth-sized planets have clement surfaces with liquid water? I will show how tidal heating and the evolution of the stellar luminosity affect the habitability of planets and moons around red dwarf stars.

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