Shoji Ueta & Takanori Sasaki, Structure of surface-H2O layers of ice-covered planets with high-pressure ice, ApJ, 775, 96(8pp) (2013).
Many extrasolar (bound) terrestrial planets and free-floating (unbound) planets have been discovered. While the existence of bound and unbound terrestrial planets with liquid water is an important question, of particular importance is the question of these planets’ habitability. Even for a globally ice-covered planet, geothermal heat from the planetary interior may melt the interior ice, creating an internal ocean covered by an ice shell. In this paper, we discuss the conditions that terrestrial planets must satisfy for such an internal ocean to exist on the timescale of planetary evolution. The question is addressed in terms of planetary mass, distance from a central star, water abundance, and abundance of radiogenic heat sources. In addition, we investigate the structure of the surface H2O layers of ice-covered planets by considering the effects of ice under high pressure (high-pressure ice). As a fiducial case, a 1 M⊕ planet at 1 AU from its central star and with 0.6–25 times the H2 O mass of the Earth could have an internal ocean. We find that high-pressure ice layers may appear between the internal ocean and the rock portion on a planet with an H2O mass over 25 times that of the Earth. The planetary mass and abundance of surface water strongly restrict the conditions under which an extrasolar terrestrial planet may have an internal ocean with no high-pressure ice under the ocean. Such high-pressure ice layers underlying the internal ocean are likely to affect the habitability of the planet.