Spectra of Earth-like planets through geological evolution around FGKM stars

Sarah Rugheimer, Lisa Kaltenegger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Citations (Scopus)


Future observations of terrestrial exoplanet atmospheres will occur for planets at different stages of geological evolution. We expect to observe a wide variety of atmospheres and planets with alternative evolutionary paths, with some planets resembling Earth at different epochs. For an Earth-like atmospheric time trajectory, we simulate planets from prebiotic to current atmosphere based on geological data. We use a stellar grid F0V to M8V (Teff = 7000 K to 2400 K) to model four geological epochs of Earth's history corresponding to a prebiotic world (3.9 Ga), the rise of oxygen at 2.0 Ga and at 0.8 Ga, and the modern Earth. We show the VIS - IR spectral features, with a focus on biosignatures through geological time for this grid of Sun-like host stars and the effect of clouds on their spectra. We find that the observability of biosignature gases reduces with increasing cloud cover and increases with planetary age. The observability of the visible O2 feature for lower concentrations will partly depend on clouds, which while slightly reducing the feature increase the overall reflectivity thus the detectable flux of a planet. The depth of the IR ozone feature contributes substantially to the opacity at lower oxygen concentrations especially for the high near-UV stellar environments around F stars. Our results are a grid of model spectra for atmospheres representative of Earth's geological history to inform future observations and instrument design and are publicly available online at http://carlsaganinstitute.org/data/.
Original languageEnglish
Article number19
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Publication statusPublished - 7 Feb 2018


  • Astrobiology
  • Planets: atmospheres
  • Planets: terrestrial planets


Dive into the research topics of 'Spectra of Earth-like planets through geological evolution around FGKM stars'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this