Origins of Life and Evolution of Biospheres

, Volume 45, Issue 3, pp 319–325 | Cite as

A Maximum Radius for Habitable Planets

  • Yann AlibertEmail author


We compute the maximum radius a planet can have in order to fulfill two constraints that are likely necessary conditions for habitability: 1- surface temperature and pressure compatible with the existence of liquid water, and 2- no ice layer at the bottom of a putative global ocean, that would prevent the operation of the geologic carbon cycle to operate. We demonstrate that, above a given radius, these two constraints cannot be met: in the Super-Earth mass range (1–12 Mearth), the overall maximum that a planet can have varies between 1.8 and 2.3 Rearth. This radius is reduced when considering planets with higher Fe/Si ratios, and taking into account irradiation effects on the structure of the gas envelope.


Planet structure Habitability Planet composition 



This work was supported by the European Research Council under grant 239605


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Space and Habitability, Physikalisches InstitutUniversität BernBernSwitzerland

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