Monday, October 19, 2015

GJ1214b's Atmospheric Mixing Driven by Anti-Hadley Circulation

3D modeling of GJ1214b's atmosphere: vertical mixing driven by an anti-Hadley circulation


Charnay et al


GJ1214b is a warm sub-Neptune transiting in front of a nearby M dwarf star. Recent observations indicate the presence of high and thick clouds or haze whose presence requires strong atmospheric mixing. In order to understand the transport and distribution of such clouds/haze, we study the atmospheric circulation and the vertical mixing of GJ1214b with a 3D General Circulation Model for cloud-free hydrogen-dominated atmospheres (metallicity of 1, 10 and 100 times the solar value) and for a water-dominated atmosphere. We analyze the effect of the atmospheric metallicity on the thermal structure and zonal winds. We also analyze the zonal mean meridional circulation and show that it corresponds to an anti-Hadley circulation in most of the atmosphere with upwelling at mid-latitude and downwelling at the equator in average. This circulation must be present on a large range of synchronously rotating exoplanets with strong impact on cloud formation and distribution. Using simple tracers, we show that vertical winds on GJ1214b can be strong enough to loft micrometric particles and that the anti-Hadley circulation leads to a minimum of tracers at the equator. We find that the strength of the vertical mixing increases with metallicity. We derive 1D equivalent eddy diffusion coefficients and find simple parametrizations from Kzz=7x10^2xP_{bar}^{-0.4} m^2/s for solar metallicity to Kzz=3x10^3xP_{bar}^{-0.4} m^2/s for the 100xsolar metallicity. These values should favor an efficient formation of photochemical haze in the upper atmosphere of GJ1214b.

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