Elemental abundances and minimum mass of heavy elements in the envelope of HD 189733b

O. Mousis, J. I. Lunine, G. Tinetti, C. A. Griffith, A. P. Showman, Y. Alibert, J. P. Beaulieu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Context. Oxygen (O) and carbon (C) have been inferred recently to be subsolar in abundance from spectra of the atmosphere of the transiting hot Jupiter HD189733b. Yet, the mass and radius of the planet coupled with structure models indicate a strongly supersolar abundance of heavy elements in the interior of this object. Aims.Here we explore the discrepancy between the large amount of heavy elements suspected in the planet's interior and the paucity of volatiles measured in its atmosphere. Methods.We describe the formation sequence of the icy planetesimals formed beyond the snow line of the protoplanetary disk and calculate the composition of ices ultimately accreted in the envelope of HD189733b on its migration pathway. This allows us to reproduce the observed volatile abundances by adjusting the mass of ices vaporized in the envelope. Results.The predicted elemental mixing ratios should be 0.15-0.3 times solar in the envelope of HD189733b if they are fitted to the recent O and C determinations. However, our fit to the minimum mass of heavy elements predicted by internal structure models gives elemental abundances that are 1.2-2.4 times oversolar in the envelope of HD189733b. Conclusions.We propose that the most likely cause of this discrepancy is irradiation from the central star leading to development of a radiative zone in the planet's outer envelope which would induce gravitational settling of elements. Hence, all strongly irradiated extrasolar planets should present subsolar abundances of volatiles. We finally predict that the abundances of nitrogen (N), sulfur (S) and phosphorus (P) are of ∼2.8 × 10-5, 5.3 × 10-6 and 1.8 × 10-7 relative to H2, respectively in the outer part of HD189733b's atmosphere.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1671-1674
Number of pages4
JournalAstronomy and astrophysics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 1 2009


  • Planetary systems
  • Planetary systems: formation
  • Planetary systems: protoplanetary disks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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