Exoplanets & Exomoons

Clouds In Exoplanetary Atmospheres

By Keith Cowing
November 9, 2020
Filed under
Clouds In Exoplanetary Atmospheres

Today, we know ~4330 exoplanets orbiting their host stars in ~3200 planetary systems. The diversity of these exoplanets is large, and none of the known exoplanets is a twin to any of the solar system planets, nor is any of the known extrasolar planetary systems a twin of the solar system.

Such diversity on many scales and structural levels requires fundamental theoretical approaches. Large efforts are underway to develop individual aspects of exoplanet sciences, like exoplanet atmospheres, cloud formation, disk chemistry, planet system dynamics, mantle convection, mass loss of planetary atmospheres.

The following challenges need to be addressed in tandem with observational efforts. They provide the opportunity to progress our understanding of exoplanets and their atmospheres by exploring our models as virtual laboratories to fill gaps in observational data from different instruments and missions, and taken at different instances of times:

Challenge a) Building complex models based on theoretical rigour that aim to understand the interactions of atmospheric processes, to treat cloud formation and its feedback onto the gas-phase chemistry and the energy budget of the planetary atmosphere moving away from solar-system inspired parameterisations.

Challenge b) Enabling cloud modelling based on fundamental physio-chemical insights in order to be applicable to the large and unexplored chemical, radiative and thermodynamical parameter range of exoplanets in the universe. Challenge b) will be explored in this chapter of the book ExoFrontiers.

Christiane Helling (Centre for Exoplanet Science, University of St Andrews, St Andrews, SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research)

Comments: 6 pages with one figure; to appear as a book chapter in “ExoFrontiers: Big questions in exoplanetary science”, Ed. N Madhusudhan (Bristol: IOP Publishing Ltd) AAS-IOP ebooks
Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP); Atmospheric and Oceanic Physics (physics.ao-ph); Atomic and Molecular Clusters (physics.atm-clus)
Cite as: arXiv:2011.03302 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:2011.03302v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Christiane Helling
[v1] Fri, 6 Nov 2020 11:53:16 UTC (622 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) 🖖🏻