Effects of stellar flux on tidally locked terrestrial planets: Degree-1 mantle convection and local magma ponds

S. E. Gelman, L. T. Elkins-Tanton, S. Seager

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Scopus citations

Abstract

We model the geodynamical evolution of super-Earth exoplanets in synchronous rotation about their star. While neglecting the effects of a potential atmosphere, we explore the parameter spaces of both the Rayleigh number and intensity of incoming stellar flux, and identify two main stages of mantle convection evolution. The first is a transient stage in which a lithospheric temperature and thickness dichotomy emerges between the substellar and the antistellar hemispheres, while the style of mantle convection is dictated by the Rayleigh number. The second stage is the development of degree-1 mantle convection. Depending on mantle properties, the timescale of onset of this second stage of mantle evolution varies from order 1 to 100 billion years of simulated planetary evolution. Planets with higher Rayleigh numbers (due to, for instance, larger planetary radii than the Earth) and planets whose incoming stellar flux is high (likely for most detectable exoplanets) will develop degree-1 mantle convection most quickly, on the order of 1 billion years, which is within the age of many planetary systems. Surface temperatures range from 220K to 830K, implying the possibility of liquid water in some regions near the surface. These results are discussed in the context of stable molten magma ponds on hotter planets, and the habitability of super-Earths which may lie outside the Habitable Zone.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number72
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Volume735
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 10 2011

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Keywords

  • convection
  • methods: numerical
  • planetary systems
  • planets and satellites: general
  • stars: individual (CoRoT-7, Gliese 581)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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