Habitable Zones & Global Climate

From Cold to Hot Irradiated Gaseous Exoplanets: Fingerprints of Chemical Disequilibrium in Atmospheric Spectra

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
August 28, 2019
Filed under
From Cold to Hot Irradiated Gaseous Exoplanets: Fingerprints of Chemical Disequilibrium in Atmospheric Spectra
A cross-section of Figure 15 at 10−10 bar to illustrate the ”diffusion-equilibrium” at the top of the atmosphere after 1011 sec.

Almost all planetary atmospheres are affected by disequilibrium chemical processes.

In this paper we introduce our recently developed Chemical Kinetic Model (ChemKM}). We show that the results of our HD189733b model are in good agreement with previously published results, except at μbar regime, where molecular diffusion and photochemistry are the dominant processes. We thus recommend careful consideration of these processes when abundances at the top of the atmosphere are desired.

We also propose a new metric for a quantitative measure of quenching levels. By applying this metric, we find that quenching pressure decreases with the effective temperature of planets, but it also varies significantly with other atmospheric parameters such as [Fe/H], log(g), and C/O. In addition, we find that the “Methane Valley”, a region between 800 and 1500K where above a certain C/O threshold value a greater chance of CH4 detection is expected, still exists after including the vertical mixing. The first robust CH4 detection on an irradiated planet (HD102195b) places this object within this region; supporting our prediction.

We also investigate the detectability of disequilibrium spectral fingerprints by JWST, and suggest focusing on the targets with Teff between 1000 and 1800K, orbiting around M-dwarfs, having low surface gravity but high metallicity and a C/O ratio value around unity. Finally, constructing Spitzer color-maps suggests that the main two color-populations are largely insensitive to the vertical mixing. Therefore any deviation of observational points from these populations are likely due to the presence of clouds and not disequilibrium processes. However, some cold planets (Teff<900K) with very low C/O ratios (<0.25) show significant deviations; making these planets interesting cases for further investigation. Karan Molaverdikhani, Thomas Henning, Paul Mollière
(Submitted on 26 Aug 2019)

Comments: 33 pages, 22 figures, accepted for publication in ApJ
Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)
Cite as: arXiv:1908.09847 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:1908.09847v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Karan Molaverdikhani
[v1] Mon, 26 Aug 2019 18:00:04 UTC (8,503 KB)

Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA Space Station Payload manager/space biologist, Away Teams, Journalist, Lapsed climber, Synaesthete, Na’Vi-Jedi-Freman-Buddhist-mix, ASL, Devon Island and Everest Base Camp veteran, (he/him) 🖖🏻