Line and mean opacities for ultracool dwarfs and extrasolar planets

Richard S. Freedman, Mark S. Marley, Katharina Lodders

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

358 Scopus citations


Opacities and chemical abundance data are crucial ingredients of ultracool dwarf and extrasolar giant planet atmosphere models. We report here on the detailed sources of molecular opacity data employed by our group for this application. We also present tables of Rosseland and Planck mean opacities, which are of use in some studies of the atmospheres, interiors, and evolution of planets and brown dwarfs. For the tables presented here we have included the opacities of important atomic and molecular species, including the alkali elements, pressure-induced absorption by hydrogen, and other significant opacity sources, but we neglect opacity from condensates. We report for each species how we have assembled molecular line data from a combination of public databases, laboratory data that is not yet in the public databases, and our own numerical calculations. We combine these opacities with abundances computed from a chemical equilibrium model using recently revised solar abundances to compute mean opacities. The chemical equilibrium calculation accounts for the settling of condensates in a gravitational field and is applicable to ultracool dwarf and extrasolar planetary atmospheres, but not circumstellar disks. We find that the inclusion of alkali atomic opacity substantially increases the mean opacities over those currently in the literature at densities relevant to the atmospheres and interiors of giant planets and brown dwarfs. We provide our opacity tables for public use and discuss their limitations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)504-513
Number of pages10
JournalAstrophysical Journal, Supplement Series
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Line: profiles
  • Molecular data
  • Stars: atmospheres
  • Stars: low-mass, brown dwarfs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Line and mean opacities for ultracool dwarfs and extrasolar planets'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this