Biomarker Response to Galactic Cosmic Ray-Induced NOx And The Methane Greenhouse Effect in The Atmosphere of An Earth-Like Planet Orbiting An M Dwarf Star

John Lee Grenfell, Jean-Mathias Grießmeier, Beate Patzer, Heike Rauer, Antigona Segura, Anja Stadelmann, Barbara Stracke, Ruth Titz, Philip Von Paris
2007 Astrobiology  
Planets orbiting in the habitable zone (HZ) of M-Dwarf stars are subject to high levels of galactic cosmic rays (GCRs) which produce nitrogen oxides in earthlike atmospheres. We investigate to what extent this NOx may modify biomarker compounds such as ozone (O3) and nitrous oxide (N2O), as well as related compounds such as water (H2O) (essential for life) and methane (CH4) (which has both abiotic and biotic sources) . Our model results suggest that such signals are robust, changing in the
more » ... hanging in the M-star world atmospheric column by up to 20% due to the GCR NOx effects compared to an M-star run without GCR effects and can therefore survive at least the effects of galactic cosmic rays. We have not however investigated stellar cosmic rays here. CH4 levels are about 10 times higher than on the Earth related to a lowering in hydroxyl (OH) in response to changes in UV. The increase is less than reported in previous studies. This difference arose partly because we used different biogenic input. For example, we employed 23% lower CH4 fluxes compared to those studies. Unlike on the Earth, relatively modest changes in these fluxes can lead to larger changes in the concentrations of biomarker and related species on the M-star world. We calculate a CH4 greenhouse heating effect of up to 4K. O3 photochemistry in terms of the smog mechanism and the catalytic loss cycles on the M-star world differs considerably compared with the Earth.
doi:10.1089/ast.2006.0129 pmid:17407408 fatcat:r3qhmbyttzcmdkvcavv6dos57i