2017 Student Research Conference:
30th Annual Student Research Conference

Gaian regulation on tidally-locked planets orbiting M-type stars


Nicole A. Fiore
Dr. Vayujeet Gokhale, Faculty Mentor

Though M-type stars are the most abundant in the Galaxy, the habitability of their planetary systems is questionable. Because M-type stars have lower stellar flux than stars of other spectral types, their habitable zones are closer in proximity to the star. Consequently, gravitational interactions can cause synchronous rotation, resulting in hostile conditions on an otherwise habitable planet. In this talk, we address the applicability of Gaian regulation to tidally-locked planets orbiting M-type stars. The Gaia hypothesis suggests that a planet is more likely to maintain habitability if the biosphere is capable of self-regulation. On a Gaian planet, life influences existing abiotic geochemical cycles via strong selective pressure, down-regulating runaway feedback mechanisms and perpetuating habitable conditions. If tidally-locked planets can be rendered more habitable by means of Gaian regulation, the search for extraterrestrial life may be significantly expanded by including planets in the habitable zone around M-type stars.

Keywords: Gaia, tidal locking, M-type stars, habitablity, life, self-regulation, extraterrestrial, astrobiology

Topic(s):Astrobiology

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 306-1
Location: MG 2050
Time: 1:00

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