TERRAPUB Earth, Planets and Space

Earth Planets Space, Vol. 64 (No. 2), pp. 179-199, 2012

Variability of solar/stellar activity and magnetic field and its influence on planetary atmosphere evolution

Helmut Lammer1, Manuel Güdel2, Yuri Kulikov3, Ignasi Ribas4, Teimuraz V. Zaqarashvili1,5, Maxim L. Khodachenko1, Kristina G. Kislyakova6,7, Hannes Gröller1, Petra Odert7, Martin Leitzinger7, Bibiana Fichtinger7, Sandro Krauss1, Walter Hausleitner1, Mats Holmström8, Jorge Sanz-Forcada9, Herbert I. M. Lichtenegger1, Arnold Hanslmeier7, Valery I. Shematovich10, Dmitry Bisikalo10, Heike Rauer11,12, and Malcolm Fridlund13

1Space Research Institute, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Schmiedlstr. 6, A-8042 Graz, Austria
2Institute for Astronomy, University of Vienna, Türkenschanzstr. 17, A-1180 Vienna, Austria
3Polar Geophysical Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences, Khalturina Str. 15, 183010 Murmansk, Russia
4Institut d'Estudis Espacials de Catalunya/CSIC, Campus UAB, Facultat de Ciéncies, Torre C5-parell-2a planta, 08193 Bellaterra, Spain
5Abastumani Astrophysical Observatory at Ilia State University, Kazbegi ave. 2a, Tbilisi, Georgia
6N. I. Lobachevsky State University, University of Nizhnij Novgorod, 23 Prospekt Gagarina, 603950 Nizhnij Novgorod, Russia
7Institut für Physik/IGAM, Universität Graz Universitätsplatz 5, A-8010 Graz, Austria
8Swedish Institute of Space Physics, Box 812, SE-98128 Kiruna, Sweden
9Centro de Astrobiología/CSIC-INTA, LAEFF Campus, P.O. Box 78, E-28691 Villanueva de la Cañada, Madrid, Spain
10Institute of Astronomy, Russian Academy of Sciences, 48 Pyatnitskaya Str., 119017 Moscow, Russia
11Institut für Planetenforschung, Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt, Rutherfordstr. 2, 12489 Berlin, Germany
12Zentrum für Astronomie und Astrophysik, TU Berlin, Hardenbergstr. 36, D-10623 Berlin, Germany
13Research and Scientific Support Department, European Space Agency, Keplerlaan 1, 2200 AG, Noordwijk, The Netherlands

(Received January 31, 2011; Revised April 6, 2011; Accepted April 7, 2011; Online published March 8, 2012)

Abstract: It is shown that the evolution of planetary atmospheres can only be understood if one recognizes the fact that the radiation and particle environment of the Sun or a planet's host star were not always on the same level as at present. New insights and the latest observations and research regarding the evolution of the solar radiation, plasma environment and solar/stellar magnetic field derived from the observations of solar proxies with different ages will be given. We show that the extreme radiation and plasma environments of the young Sun/stars have important implications for the evolution of planetary atmospheres and may be responsible for the fact that planets with low gravity like early Mars most likely never build up a dense atmosphere during the first few 100 Myr after their origin. Finally we present an innovative new idea on how hydrogen clouds and energetic neutral atom (ENA) observations around transiting Earth-like exoplanets by space observatories such as the WSO-UV, can be used for validating the addressed atmospheric evolution studies. Such observations would enhance our understanding on the impact on the activity of the young Sun on the early atmospheres of Venus, Earth, Mars and other Solar System bodies as well as exoplanets.
Key words: Young Sun, solar activity, solar proxies, solar wind, atmosphere evolution, ENAs, WSO-UV, PLATO.

Corresponding author E-mail: helmut.lammer@oeaw.ac.at

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