Atmospheric sulfur photochemistry on hot jupiters

K. Zahnle, M. S. Marley, R. S. Freedman, K. Lodders, J. J. Fortney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

100 Scopus citations


We develop a new one-dimensional photochemical kinetics code to address stratospheric chemistry and stratospheric heating in hot Jupiters. Here we address optically active S-containing species and CO2 at 1200 ≤ T ≤ 2000 K. HS (mercapto) and S2 are highly reactive species that are generated photochemically and thermochemically from H2S with peak abundances between 1 and 10 mbar. S2 absorbs UV between 240 and 340 nm and is optically thick for metallicities [S/H]>0 at T ≥ 1200 K. HS is probably more important than S2, as it is generally more abundant than S2 under hot Jupiter conditions and it absorbs at somewhat redder wavelengths. We use molecular theory to compute an HS absorption spectrum from sparse available data and find that HS should absorb strongly between 300 and 460 nm, with absorption at the longer wavelengths being temperature sensitive. When the two absorbers are combined, radiative heating (per kg of gas) peaks at 100 μbars, with a total stratospheric heating of ∼8 × 104 W m-2 for a jovian planet orbiting a solar-twin at 0.032 AU. Total heating is insensitive to metallicity. The CO2 mixing ratio is a well behaved quadratic function of metallicity, ranging from 1.6 × 10-8 to 1.6 × 10-4 for -0.3 < [M/H] < 1.7. CO2 is insensitive to insolation, vertical mixing, temperature (1200 < T < 2000), and gravity. The photochemical calculations confirm that CO2 should prove a useful probe of planetary metallicity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L20-L24
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1 PART 2
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Planetary systems
  • Stars: individual (HD 209458, HD 149026)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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