Surface Flux Patterns on Planets in Circumbinary Systems, and Potential for Photosynthesis
Duncan Forgan
University of St Andrews
Alex Mead, Charles Cockell, John Raven
Recently, the Kepler Space Telescope has detected several circumbinary planetary systems. These circumbinary planets will experience non-trivial spatial and temporal distributions of radiative flux on their surfaces, with features not seen in their single-star orbiting counterparts. Earthlike circumbinary planets inhabited by photosynthetic organisms will be forced to adapt to these unusual flux patterns.

I will present calculations of the flux received by putative Earthlike planets (as a function of surface latitude/longitude and time) orbiting the binary star systems Kepler-16 and Kepler-47, two star systems which already boast circumbinary exoplanet detections. The longitudinal and latitudinal distribution of flux is sensitive to the centre of mass motion of the binary, and the relative orbital phases of the binary and planet. Total eclipses of the secondary by the primary, as well as partial eclipses of the primary by the secondary add extra forcing terms to the system.

The patterns of darkness on the surface are equally unique. Beyond the planet's polar circles, the surface spends a significantly longer time in darkness than latitudes around the equator, due to the stars' motions delaying the first sunrise of spring (or hastening the last sunset of autumn). In the case of Kepler-47, we also find a weak longitudinal dependence for darkness, but this effect tends to average
out if considered over many orbits.