Dynamical habitability of known extrasolar planetary systems.
MENOU K. and TABACHNIK S.
Abstract (from CDS):
Habitability is usually defined as the requirement for a terrestrial planet's atmosphere to sustain liquid water. This definition can be complemented by the dynamical requirement that other planets in the system do not gravitationally perturb terrestrial planets outside of their habitable zone, the orbital region allowing the existence of liquid water. We quantify the dynamical habitability of 85 known extrasolar planetary systems via simulations of their orbital dynamics in the presence of potentially habitable terrestrial planets. When requiring that habitable planets remain strictly within their habitable zone at all times, the perturbing influence of giant planets extends beyond the traditional Hill sphere for close encounters: terrestrial planet excursions outside of the habitable zone are also caused by secular eccentricity variations and, in some cases, strong mean-motion resonances. Our results indicate that more than half the known extrasolar planetary systems (mostly those with distant, eccentric giant planets) are unlikely to harbor habitable terrestrial planets. About one-fourth of the systems (mostly those with close-in giant planets), including one-third of the potential targets for the Terrestrial Planet Finder, appear as dynamically habitable as our own solar system. The influence of yet undetected giant planets in these systems could compromise their dynamical habitability. Some habitable terrestrial planets in our simulations have substantial eccentricities (e>0.1), which may lead to large seasonal climate variations and thus affect their habitability.