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The search for life in the Universe is a fundamental problem of astrobiology and modern science. The current progress in the detection of terrestrial-type exoplanets has opened a new avenue in the characterization of exoplanetary atmospheres and in the search for biosignatures of life with the upcoming ground-based and space missions. To specify the conditions favourable for the origin, development and sustainment of life as we know it in other worlds, we need to understand the nature of global (astrospheric), and local (atmospheric and surface) environments of exoplanets in the habitable zones (HZs) around G-K-M dwarf stars including our young Sun. Global environment is formed by propagated disturbances from the planet-hosting stars in the form of stellar flares, coronal mass ejections, energetic particles and winds collectively known as astrospheric space weather. Its characterization will help in understanding how an exoplanetary ecosystem interacts with its host star, as well as in the specification of the physical, chemical and biochemical conditions that can create favourable and/or detrimental conditions for planetary climate and habitability along with evolution of planetary internal dynamics over geological timescales. A key linkage of (astro)physical, chemical and geological processes can only be understood in the framework of interdisciplinary studies with the incorporation of progress in heliophysics, astrophysics, planetary and Earth sciences. The assessment of the impacts of host stars on the climate and habitability of terrestrial (exo)planets will significantly expand the current definition of the HZ to the biogenic zone and provide new observational strategies for searching for signatures of life. The major goal of this paper is to describe and discuss the current status and recent progress in this interdisciplinary field in light of presentations and discussions during the NASA Nexus for Exoplanetary System Science funded workshop ‘Exoplanetary Space Weather, Climate and Habitability’ and to provide a new roadmap for the future development of the emerging field of exoplanetary science and astrobiology.
We use numerical simulations from the Community Coordinated Modeling Center to provide, for the first time, a coherent temporal description of the magnetic reconnection process of two dayside Electron Diffusion Regions (EDRs) identified in Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission data. The model places the MMS spacecraft near the separator line in these most intense and long-lived events. A listing of 31 dayside EDRs identified by the authors is provided to encourage collaboration in analysis of these unique encounters.
Kepler observations suggest that G-type stars produce powerful flares suggesting that the early Earth may also have been exposed to frequent and energetic solar explosive events generated by the young Sun. We show that powerful coronal mass ejection (CME) events associated with superflares impacting the Earth magnetosphere with a frequency of 1 event/day. What was the impact of superflares, CMEs and associated solar energetic particle (SEPs) events on the atmospheric erosion of the young Earth and habitability? In this paper we discuss our three-dimensional (3D) magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) simulations that show that frequent and energetic CMEs from the early Sun continuously destroyed the sub-solar parts of Earth's magnetosphere at heights < 1.25 RE. This suggests that CME shock accelerated energetic protons are capable of penetrating into the polar cap region and breaking atmospheric molecular nitrogen, the major ingredient of the early Earth atmosphere, into atomic nitrogen. Photo-collisional dissociation of molecular nitrogen and carbon dioxide creates reactive chemistry that efficiently produces nitrous oxide and hydrogen cyanide, the essential molecule in prebiotic life chemistry. This raises an possibility that frequent super-CMEs could serve as a potential catalyst for the origin of life on early Earth.
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