Aeronomy of extra-solar giant planets at small orbital distances

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400 Scopus citations


One-dimensional aeronomical calculations of the atmospheric structure of extra-solar giant planets in orbits with semi-major axes from 0.01 to 0.1 AU show that the thermospheres are heated to over 10,000 K by the EUV flux from the central star. The high temperatures cause the atmosphere to escape rapidly, implying that the upper thermosphere is cooled primarily by adiabatic expansion. The lower thermosphere is cooled primarily by radiative emissions from H+3, created by photoionization of H2 and subsequent ion chemistry. Thermal decomposition of H2 causes an abrupt change in the composition, from molecular to atomic, near the base of the thermosphere. The composition of the upper thermosphere is determined by the balance between photoionization, advection, and H+ recombination. Molecular diffusion and thermal conduction are of minor importance, in part because of large atmospheric scale heights. The energy-limited atmospheric escape rate is approximately proportional to the stellar EUV flux. Although escape rates are large, the atmospheres are stable over time scales of billions of years.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)167-179
Number of pages13
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2004


  • Aeronomy
  • Atmospheric escape
  • Extra-solar planets

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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