Researchers have used the Community Atmosphere Model from the National Center for Atmospheric Research to better understand how the climates of Earth-like planets evolve over time under a range of stellar fluxes. When studying habitability in the habitable zone of distant stars, astronomers focus on planets where abundant liquid water can persist at the surface for long periods of time. However, water interacts with solar and thermal radiation to produce climatic feedbacks that affect the entire planet. Therefore, understanding the habitable zone of stars requires models that take into account the hydrological cycle of a planet over geological time scales. The new study identified four stable climate states for planets around F-, G-, and K-dwarf main sequence stars.

The paper, “Constraints on Climate and Habitability for Earth-like Exoplanets Determined from a General Circulation Model,” was published in The Astrophysical Journal. The work was supported through NASA’s Habitable Worlds Program. NASA Astrobiology provides resources for this and other Research and Analysis programs within the NASA Science Mission Directorate (SMD) that solicit proposals relevant to astrobiology research.