Cal Poly Pomona

Physics Seminar

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Modeling Hot Jupiter Atmospheres: Probing a New Regime of Circulation

Emily Rauscher (*)

Dept. of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Columbia University and KITP, UC Santa Barbara

In 1995 scientists announced the discovery of the first extrasolar planet orbiting a Sun-like star and were surprised by what they found: a gas giant that was seven times closer to its parent star than Mercury is to our Sun. Fifteen years later there are now more than 400 known extrasolar planets and over 20% belong to this class known as "hot Jupiters", with masses comparable to Jupiter and on extremely close-in orbits, such that they are heated to temperatures of ~1300 K (or 2000 degrees Fahrenheit!). These planets should be tidally-locked into synchronous orbits, with the same side always facing the star. Given such a strong difference in heating between the permanent day and night sides, the atmospheres should develop powerful winds that work to redistribute the heat around the planet. Hot Jupiters are so unlike anything in our Solar System that we are having to extend our understanding of atmospheric dynamics to encompass this new regime. Recent observations of thermal emission and atmospheric properties of hot Jupiters show evidence of complex flows and a diversity of behavior between planetary systems. Although several modeling approaches are being developed to predict hot Jupiter circulation patterns, none are yet able to fully match these data. I will discuss the observations, the models, and where we stand in trying to discern the nature of these complex beasts.

(*) NSF ADVANCE Speaker

Refreshments at 11:00 AM. Seminar begins at 11:10 AM.
Building 8, Room 241
For further information, please call (909) 869-4014

Last modified on March 23, 2010
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