Predicting the Extreme Ultraviolet Radiation Environment of Exoplanets around Low-mass Stars: The TRAPPIST-1 System

Sarah Peacock, Travis Barman, Evgenya L. Shkolnik, Peter H. Hauschildt, E. Baron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


The high energy radiation environment around M dwarf stars strongly impacts the characteristics of close-in exoplanet atmospheres, but these wavelengths are difficult to observe due to geocoronal and interstellar contamination. On account of these observational restrictions, a stellar atmosphere model may be used to compute the stellar extreme ultraviolet (EUV; 100-912) spectrum. We construct semiempirical nonlocal thermodynamic equilibrium model spectra of the ultracool M8 star TRAPPIST-1 that span EUV to infrared wavelengths (100 -2.5 μm) using the atmosphere code PHOENIX. These upper atmosphere models contain prescriptions for the chromosphere and transition region and include newly added partial frequency redistribution capabilities. In the absence of broadband UV spectral observations, we constrain our models using Hubble Space Telescope Lyman α observations from TRAPPIST-1 and Galaxy Evolution Explorer UV photometric detections from a set of old M8 stars (>1 Gyr). We find that calibrating the models using both data sets separately yield similar far-ultraviolet and NUV fluxes, and EUV fluxes that range from (1.32-17.4) 10 -14 ergs s -1 cm -2 . The results from these models demonstrate that the EUV emission is very sensitive to the temperature structure in the transition region. Our lower activity models predict EUV fluxes similar to previously published estimates derived from semiempirical scaling relationships, while the highest activity model predicts EUV fluxes a factor of 10 higher. Results from this study support the idea that the TRAPPIST-1 habitable zone planets likely do not have much liquid water on their surfaces due to the elevated levels of high energy radiation emitted by the host star.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number235
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2019


  • stars: activity
  • stars: chromospheres
  • stars: low-mass
  • ultraviolet: stars

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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