The effect of metallicity on the atmospheres of exoplanets with fully coupled 3D hydrodynamics, equilibrium chemistry, and radiative transfer (article)
Astronomy and Astrophysics
EDP Sciences for European Southern Observatory (ESO)
In this work we have performed a series of simulations of the atmosphere of GJ 1214b assuming different metallicities using the Met Office Unified Model (UM). The UM is a general circulation model (GCM) that solves the deep, nonhydrostatic equations of motion and uses a flexible and accurate radiative transfer scheme, based on the two-stream and correlated-k approximations, to calculate the heating rates. In this work we consistently couple a well-tested Gibbs energy minimisation scheme to solve for the chemical equilibrium abundances locally in each grid cell for a general set of elemental abundances, further improving the flexibility and accuracy of the model. As the metallicity of the atmosphere is increased we find significant changes in the dynamical and thermal structure, with subsequent implications for the simulated phase curve. The trends that we find are qualitatively consistent with previous works, though with quantitative differences. We investigate in detail the effect of increasing the metallicity by splitting the mechanism into constituents, involving the mean molecular weight, the heat capacity and the opacities. We find the opacity effect to be the dominant mechanism in altering the circulation and thermal structure. This result highlights the importance of accurately computing the opacities and radiative transfer in 3D GCMs.
This work is partly supported by the European Research Council under the European Community’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013 Grant Agreement No. 247060-PEPS and grant No. 320478-TOFU). BD acknowledges funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Unions Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) / ERC grant agreement no. 336792 and thanks the University of Exeter for support through a PhD studentship. DSA acknowledges support from the NASA Astrobiology Program through the Nexus for Exoplanet System Science. NJM and JG’s contributions were in part funded by a Leverhulme Trust Research Project Grant, and in part by a University of Exeter College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences studentship. This work used the DiRAC Complexity system, operated by the University of Leicester IT Services, which forms part of the STFC DiRAC HPC Facility. This equipment is funded by BIS National E-Infrastructure capital grant ST/K000373/1 and STFC DiRAC Operations grant ST/K0003259/1. DiRAC is part of the National E-Infrastructure. This work also used the University of Exeter Supercomputer, a DiRAC Facility jointly funded by STFC, the Large Facilities Capital Fund of BIS and the University of Exeter. Material produced using Met Office Software.
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from EDP Sciences for European Southern Observatory (ESO) via the DOI in this record.
The dataset associated with this article is located in ORE at: http://hdl.handle.net/10871/32593
Published online 03-01-2018