Thursday, March 17, 2016

Chemistry of hot Jupiter HD 209458b's Atmospheric Loss

Molecular formation along the atmospheric mass loss of HD 209458 b and similar Hot Jupiters


Pinotti et al


The chemistry along the mass loss of Hot Jupiters is generally considered to be simple, consisting mainly of atoms, prevented from forming more complex species by the intense radiation field from their host stars. In order to probe the region where the temperature is low (T less than 2000 K), we developed a 1D chemical and photochemical reaction model of the atmospheric mass loss of HD 209458 b, involving 56 species, including carbon chain and oxygen bearing ones, interacting through 566 reactions. The simulation results indicate that simple molecules like OH+, H2O+ and H3O+ are formed inside the region, considering that residual H2 survives in the exosphere, a possibility indicated by recent observational work. The molecules are formed and destroyed within a radial distance of less than 10^7 km, but the estimated integrated column density of OH+, a potential tracer of H2, is high enough to allow detection, which, once achieved, would indicate a revision of chemical models of the upper atmosphere of Hot Jupiters. For low density Hot Jupiters receiving less intense XUV radiation from their host stars than HD 209458 b, molecular species could conceivably be formed with a higher total column density.

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