The Dehydration of Water Worlds via Atmospheric Losses

Chuanfei Dong, Zhenguang Huang, Manasvi Lingam, Gábor Tóth, Tamas Gombosi, Amitava Bhattacharjee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


We present a three-species multi-fluid magnetohydrodynamic model (H+, H2O+, and e -), endowed with the requisite atmospheric chemistry, that is capable of accurately quantifying the magnitude of water ion losses from exoplanets. We apply this model to a water world with Earth-like parameters orbiting a Sun-like star for three cases: (i) current normal solar wind conditions, (ii) ancient normal solar wind conditions, and (iii) one extreme "Carrington-type" space weather event. We demonstrate that the ion escape rate for (ii), with a value of 6.0 1026s-1, is about an order of magnitude higher than the corresponding value of 6.7 1025 s-1 for (i). Studies of ion losses induced by space weather events, where the ion escape rates can reach ∼1028 s-1, are crucial for understanding how an active, early solar-type star (e.g., with frequent coronal mass ejections) could have accelerated the depletion of the exoplanet's atmosphere. We briefly explore the ramifications arising from the loss of water ions, especially for planets orbiting M-dwarfs where such effects are likely to be significant.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberL4
JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 20 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • astrobiology
  • magnetohydrodynamics (MHD)
  • planets and satellites: atmospheres
  • planets and satellites: magnetic fields
  • planets and satellites: physical evolution
  • planets and satellites: terrestrial planets


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