Monday, October 26, 2015

Modeling the Atmospheres of Exoplanets Around Different Host Stars at Different Temperatures

Model atmospheres of irradiated exoplanets: The influence of stellar parameters, metallicity, and the C/O ratio


Mollière et al


Many parameters constraining the spectral appearance of exoplanets are still poorly understood. We therefore study the properties of irradiated exoplanet atmospheres over a wide parameter range including metallicity, C/O ratio and host spectral type. We calculate a grid of 1-d radiative-convective atmospheres and emission spectra. We perform the calculations with our new Pressure-Temperature Iterator and Spectral Emission Calculator for Planetary Atmospheres (PETIT) code, assuming chemical equilibrium. The atmospheric structures and spectra are made available online. We find that atmospheres of planets with C/O ratios ∼ 1 and Teff ≳ 1500 K can exhibit inversions due to heating by the alkalis because the main coolants CH4, H2O and HCN are depleted. Therefore, temperature inversions possibly occur without the presence of additional absorbers like TiO and VO. At low temperatures we find that the pressure level of the photosphere strongly influences whether the atmospheric opacity is dominated by either water (for low C/O) or methane (for high C/O), or both (regardless of the C/O). For hot, carbon-rich objects this pressure level governs whether the atmosphere is dominated by methane or HCN. Further we find that host stars of late spectral type lead to planetary atmospheres which have shallower, more isothermal temperature profiles. In agreement with prior work we find that for planets with Teff less than 1750 K the transition between water or methane dominated spectra occurs at C/O ∼ 0.7, instead of ∼ 1, because condensation preferentially removes oxygen.

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