Context. With seven planets, the TRAPPIST-1 system has among the largest number of exoplanets discovered in a single system so far. The system is of astrobiological interest, because three of its planets orbit in the habitable zone of the ultracool M dwarf.
Aims: We aim to determine interior structures for each planet and estimate the temperatures of their rock mantles due to a balance between tidal heating and convective heat transport to assess their habitability. We also aim to determine the precision in mass and radius necessary to determine the planets' compositions.
Methods: Assuming the planets are composed of uniform-density noncompressible materials (iron, rock, H2O), we determine possible compositional models and interior structures for each planet. We also construct a tidal heat generation model using a single uniform viscosity and rigidity based on each planet's composition.
Results: The compositions for planets b, c, d, and e remain uncertain given the error bars on mass and radius. With the exception of TRAPPIST-1c, all have densities low enough to indicate the presence of significant H2O. Planets b and c experience enough heating from planetary tides to maintain magma oceans in their rock mantles; planet c may have surface eruptions of silicate magma, potentially detectable with next-generation instrumentation. Tidal heat fluxes on planets d, e, and f are twenty times higher than Earth's mean heat flow.
Conclusions: Planets d and e are the most likely to be habitable. Planet d avoids the runaway greenhouse state if its albedo is ≳0.3. Determining the planet's masses within 0.1-0.5 Earth masses would confirm or rule out the presence of H2O and/or iron. Understanding the geodynamics of ice-rich planets f, g, and h requires more sophisticated modeling that can self-consistently balance heat production and transport in both rock and ice layers.
Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Pub Date:
- May 2018
- methods: numerical;
- planets and satellites: general;
- planets and satellites: interiors;
- Astrophysics - Earth and Planetary Astrophysics
- 34 pages, 3 tables, 4 figures. Accepted for publication in Astronomy &