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Title: Electrodynamics on extrasolar giant planets

Strong ionization on close-in extrasolar giant planets (EGPs) suggests that their atmospheres may be affected by ion drag and resistive heating arising from wind-driven electrodynamics. Recent models of ion drag on these planets, however, are based on thermal ionization only and do not include the upper atmosphere above the 1 mbar level. These models are also based on simplified equations of resistive magnetohydrodynamics that are not always valid in extrasolar planet atmospheres. We show that photoionization dominates over thermal ionization over much of the dayside atmosphere above the 100 mbar level, creating an upper ionosphere dominated by ionization of H and He and a lower ionosphere dominated by ionization of metals such as Na, K, and Mg. The resulting dayside electron densities on close-in exoplanets are higher than those encountered in any planetary ionosphere of the solar system, and the conductivities are comparable to the chromosphere of the Sun. Based on these results and assumed magnetic fields, we constrain the conductivity regimes on close-in EGPs and use a generalized Ohm's law to study the basic effects of electrodynamics in their atmospheres. We find that ion drag is important above the 10 mbar level where it can also significantly alter themore » energy balance through resistive heating. Due to frequent collisions of the electrons and ions with the neutral atmosphere, however, ion drag is largely negligible in the lower atmosphere below the 10 mbar level for a reasonable range of planetary magnetic moments. We find that the atmospheric conductivity decreases by several orders of magnitude in the night side of tidally locked planets, leading to a potentially interesting large-scale dichotomy in electrodynamics between the day and night sides. A combined approach that relies on UV observations of the upper atmosphere, phase curve and Doppler measurements of global dynamics, and visual transit observations to probe the alkali metals can potentially be used to constrain electrodynamics in the future.« less
Authors:
;  [1] ;  [2] ;  [3]
  1. Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, University of Arizona, 1629 East University Boulevard, Tucson, AZ 85721-0092 (United States)
  2. Groupe de Spectroscopie Moléculaire et Atmosphérique UMR CNRS 7331, Université Reims Champagne-Ardenne, F-51687 Reims (France)
  3. Astronomy Unit, School of Mathematical Sciences, Queen Mary, University of London, Mile End Road, London E1 4NS (United Kingdom)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22370204
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Astrophysical Journal; Journal Volume: 796; Journal Issue: 1; Other Information: Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
79 ASTROPHYSICS, COSMOLOGY AND ASTRONOMY; ALKALI METALS; CHROMOSPHERE; COLLISIONS; ELECTRODYNAMICS; ELECTRON DENSITY; ELECTRONS; HEATING; IONIZATION; MAGNETIC FIELDS; MAGNETOHYDRODYNAMICS; PHOTOIONIZATION; PLANETARY IONOSPHERES; PLANETS; PLASMA; SATELLITES; SOLAR SYSTEM; SUN; ULTRAVIOLET RADIATION