Atmospheric dynamics of hot exoplanets

Kevin Heng, Adam P. Showman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

97 Scopus citations


The characterization of exoplanetary atmospheres has come of age in the past decade, as astronomical techniques now allow for albedos, chemical abundances, temperature profiles and maps, rotation periods, and even wind speeds to be measured. Atmospheric dynamics sets the background state of density, temperature, and velocity that determines or influences the spectral and temporal appearance of an exoplanetary atmosphere. Hot exoplanets are most amenable to these characterization techniques. In this review, we focus on highly irradiated, large exoplanets (the hot Jupiters), as astronomical data begin to confront theoretical questions. We summarize the basic atmospheric quantities inferred from the astronomical observations. We review the state of the art by addressing a series of current questions, and look toward the future by considering a separate set of exploratory questions. Attaining the next level of understanding requires a concerted effort of constructing multifaceted, multiwavelength datasets for benchmark objects. Understanding clouds presents a formidable obstacle, as they introduce degeneracies into the interpretation of spectra, yet their properties and existence are directly influenced by atmospheric dynamics. Confronting general circulation models with these multifaceted, multiwavelength datasets will help us understand these and other degeneracies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)509-540
Number of pages32
JournalAnnual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences
StatePublished - May 30 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Astronomical observations
  • Clouds
  • Exoplanetary atmospheres
  • Fluid dynamics
  • Hot exoplanets
  • Radiation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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