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Influence of Planetary Rotation on Habitability

6 May 2014, 22:00 UTC
Influence of Planetary Rotation on Habitability
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Figure 1: Artist’s impression of a habitable planet.A previous study by Yang et al. (2013) showed that tidally-locked terrestrial planets around red dwarf stars can remain habitable at much closer distances to their host stars than previously thought due to a stabilizing cloud feedback mechanism. Strong convection drives the formation of water clouds that can cover most of the planet’s dayside, increasing the planet’s reflectivity and keeping the planet cool. In a more recent study by Yang et al. (2014), the focus shifts towards terrestrial planets around Sun-like stars, especially those near the inner edge of the habitable zone (HZ). The study examines the influence of planetary rotation on habitability.A planet’s rotation rate determines its atmospheric circulation by establishing the strength of the Coriolis effect and the length of day. For a fast rotation rate, the Coriolis effect is strong and atmospheric circulation is organised into latitudinal bands, like on Earth - Hadley cell, Ferrel cell and Polar cell (Figure 2). Also, the short length of day due to fast rotation results in small surface temperature differences between day and night.Figure 2: The three-cell model of atmospheric circulation on Earth. From Equator to Pole - Hadley cell, Ferrel cell and ...

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