M dwarfs are cooler, smaller stars than G-type stars like our sun.  That puts their habitable zones much closer in.  This cartoon also illustrates that the snow/ice line where we would expect giant planets to form also changes.

M dwarfs are cooler, smaller stars than G-type stars like our sun.  That puts their habitable zones much closer in.  This cartoon also illustrates that the snow/ice line where we would expect giant planets to form also changes.

Stars much cooler than the Sun such as M-dwarfs (red dwarfs) present an opportunity to study short period Habitable Zone planets.  The cooler light output of these stars makes the distance at which liquid water might exist on a terrestrial exoplanet much closer, equating to an orbit--which may include a transit--on the order of weeks rather than a year.  However, the extended period of activity early in these small stars' lives has raised questions about the vitality of the atmospheres on the planets that orbit near them, including those in the habitable zone.

With the VPL I am modelling the effect of M dwarf ultraviolet spectra on planetary atmospheric evolution and habitability.  I also seek to quantify the detectability of habitability markers, biosignatures and false positive biosignatures for terrestrial M dwarf planets for transit transmission and direct imaging to guide future exoplanet characterisation missions such as LUVOIR, HabEx, JWST and the ELTs.