Origins of life and evolution of the biosphere

, Volume 27, Issue 4, pp 413–420

ultraviolet radiation from F and K stars and implications for planetary habitability

  • James F. Kasting
  • Douglas C. B. Whittet
  • William R. Sheldon
Article

Abstract

Now that extrasolar planets have been found, it is timely to ask whether some of them might be suitable for life. Climatic constraints on planetary habitability indicate that a reasonably wide habitable zone exists around main sequence stars with spectral types in the early-F to mid-K range. However, it has not been demonstrated that planets orbiting such stars would be habitable when biologically-damaging energetic radiation is also considered. The large amounts of UV radiation emitted by early-type stars have been suggested to pose a problem for evolving life in their vicinity. But one might also argue that the real problem lies with late-type stars, which emit proportionally less radiation at the short wavelengths (λ < 200 nm) required to split O2 and initiate ozone formation. We show here that neither of these concerns is necessarily fatal to the evolution of advanced life: Earth-like planets orbiting F and K stars may well receive less harmful UV radiation at their surfaces than does the Earth itself.

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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • James F. Kasting
    • 1
  • Douglas C. B. Whittet
    • 2
  • William R. Sheldon
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of GeosciencesThe Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkU.S.A
  2. 2.Department of Physics, Applied Physics and AstronomyRensselaer Polytechnic InstituteTroyU.S.A
  3. 3.Physics DepartmentUniversity of HoustonHoustonU.S.A

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