Cloud Formation and Hydrodynamics on Short-Period Extrasolar Planets

Astronomy Unit Seminars
Ian Dobbs-Dixon
James Cho
June 3rd, 2016 at 14:30
GO Jones Room 610

By far, the most thoroughly characterized extrasolar planets (both observationally and theoretically) are the class of short-period, highly irradiated, gas-giant planets. Dominated by the overwhelming influence of stellar irradiation, radiative hydrodynamics plays a crucial role in shaping observations and perhaps even influencing the overall evolution of the planet. Recently, overwhelming observational evidence for cloud formation in close-in giant planets has emerged, making cloud formation one of the most important outstanding problems. I will discuss recent results from Drift-RHD, a self-consistent model coupling 3D radiative-hydrodynamics to a detailed microphysical cloud formation model. Local condensation and evaporation is coupled to global transport of condensates and gas. Cloud opacity is calculated in-situ via the effective medium theory and Mie theory, and fed back into the radiative scheme. This coupling plays an important role in determining the cloud structure across the planet, trapping clouds in certain regions and removing them from others.