Assessing circumbinary habitable zones using latitudinal energy balance modelling

Duncan Forgan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Previous attempts to describe circumbinary habitable zones (HZs) have been concerned with the spatial extent of the zone, calculated analytically according to the combined radiation field of both stars. By contrast to these `spatial HZs', we present a numerical analysis of the `orbital HZ', an HZ defined as a function of planet orbital elements. This orbital HZ is better equipped to handle (for example) eccentric planet orbits, and is more directly connected to the data returned by exoplanet observations. Producing an orbital HZ requires a large number of climate simulations to be run to investigate the parameter space - we achieve this using latitudinal energy balance models, which handle the insolation of the planet by both stars (including mutual eclipses), as well as the planetary atmosphere's ability to absorb, transfer and lose heat. We present orbital HZs for several known circumbinary planetary systems: Kepler-16, Kepler-34, Kepler-35, Kepler-47 and PH-1. Generally, the orbital HZs at zero eccentricity are consistent with spatial HZs derived by other authors, although we detect some signatures of variability that coincide with resonances between the binary and planet orbital periods. We confirm that Earth-like planets around Kepler-47 with Kepler-47c's orbital parameters could possess liquid water, despite current uncertainties regarding its eccentricity. Kepler-16b is found to be outside the HZ, as well as the other circumbinary planets investigated.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)1352-1361
Number of pages10
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014


  • astrobiology
  • methods: numerical
  • planets and satellites: general

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