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Detecting Habitable Exoplanets Using Heliospheric Charge Exchange

Presentation #107.54 in the session Stellar/Compact Objects - Poster Session.

Published onMay 03, 2024
Detecting Habitable Exoplanets Using Heliospheric Charge Exchange

Recently, many exoplanets have been discovered through various methods such as radial velocity, doppler radar, and transits. As with the terrestrial planets in our solar system, the atmospheres of these worlds are of great import in determining their habitability. In this project, we used past observations of charge exchange from within our own solar system through the Diffuse X-Ray Spectrometer (DXS) along with other observations from Chandra, Suzaku, and XMM-Newton. We created a time-independent model that predicts the luminosity from charge exchange of an extrasolar system where oxygen is present. Our model adjusts per the instrument’s specifications and approximates the luminosity of a solar system similar to our own in space. Comparing our model’s predictions to data helps identify which systems have enough charge exchange to warrant further investigation. We are focused on solar wind charge exchange or SWCX, which occurs when the solar wind releases ions that then interact with neutral atoms in the ISM or molecules in the Earth’s atmosphere, undergoing charge exchange. This charge exchange is strong in the soft X-ray region (around the 1/4 keV energy) and is a major source of noise. The intensity of charge exchange depends on the donor and receiving ion densities, the collision cross-section, and the geometry of and distance to the emitting plasma. We then used solar wind models to calculate ion densities for both the receiving and donor ions and published values for cross sections. Our complete velocity-adjusted intensity function was then normalized using data from the DXS. By then zooming out and integrating over a full system, we are able to find the luminosity of a solar system with a habitable planet at a specific wavelength. Our work has major potential and is constrained primarily by the lack of data and instrumentation available. We want to encourage more investment in and exploration of charge exchange.

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