Atmosphere, interior, and evolution of the metal-rich transiting planet HD 149026b

J. J. Fortney, D. Saumon, M. S. Marley, K. Looders, R. S. Freedman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

140 Scopus citations


We investigate the atmosphere and interior of the new transiting planet HD 149026b, which appears to be very rich in heavy elements. We first compute model atmospheres at metallicities ranging from solar to 10 times solar and show how for cases with high metallicity or inefficient redistribution of energy from the dayside, the planet may develop a hot stratosphere due to absorption of stellar flux by TiO and VO. The spectra predicted by these models are very different than cooler atmosphere models without stratospheres. The spectral effects are potentially detectable with the Spitzer Space Telescope. In addition, the models with hot stratospheres lead to a large limb brightening, rather than darkening. We compare the atmosphere of HD 149026b to other well-known transiting planets, including the recently discovered HD 189733b, which we show has a planet-to-star flux ratio twice that of HD 209458 and TrES-1. The methane abundance in the atmosphere of HD 189733b is a sensitive indicator of atmospheric temperature and metallicity and can be constrained with Spitzer IRAC observations. We then turn to interior studies of HD 149026b and use a grid of self-consistent model atmospheres and high-pressure equations of state for all components to compute thermal evolution models of the planet. We estimate that the mass of heavy elements within the planet is in the range of 60-93 M. Finally, we discuss trends in the radii of transiting planets with metallicity in light of this new member of the class.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)495-504
Number of pages10
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1 I
StatePublished - May 1 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Binaries: Eclipsing
  • Planetary systems
  • Radiative transfer
  • Stars: Individual (HD 149026, HD 189733)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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