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2020PASP..132h4402Q - Publ. Astron. Soc. Pac., 132, part no 8, 4402-84402 (2020/August-0)

Forecasting rates of volcanic activity on terrestrial exoplanets and implications for cryovolcanic activity on extrasolar ocean worlds.


Abstract (from CDS):

Like the planets and moons in our solar system, the surfaces of terrestrial exoplanets may be shaped by volcanic activity. The magnitudes and rates of volcanic activity on terrestrial exoplanets will be intimately linked to their sizes and internal heating rates and can either facilitate or preclude the existence of habitable environments. In order to place bounds on the potential for such activity, we estimate total internal heating rates for 53 exoplanets with masses and radii up to ∼8M and 2R, respectively, assuming that internal heating is drawn from both radiogenic and tidal sources. We then compare these internal heating rates to those of the planets and moons in our solar system in an attempt to constrain the expected rates of volcanic activity on these extrasolar worlds. We find that all 53 of the exoplanets surveyed are likely to have volcanic activity at their surfaces, and that at least 26% of these planets may be extrasolar ocean worlds. The majority of these ocean worlds may be similar in structure to the icy moons of the giant planets, having internal oceans beneath layers of surface ice. If so, these planets may exhibit cryovolcanism (i.e., icy volcanism) at their surfaces. Recent studies have shown that extrasolar volcanism could be detected by high-resolution spectrographs on existing ground-based telescopes. In the case of planets with densities and/or effective temperatures that are consistent with H2O-rich compositions, spectral identification of excess water vapor and other molecules that are explosively vented into space during cryovolcanic eruptions could serve as a way to infer the presence of subsurface oceans, and therefore indirectly assess their habitability. Considering the implications for habitability, our results suggest that continued characterization of terrestrial exoplanets in terms of their potential for volcanic activity should be a priority in the coming years.

Abstract Copyright: © 2020. The Astronomical Society of the Pacific. All rights reserved.

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