On the volatile enrichments and heavy element content in HD189733b

O. Mousis, J. I. Lunine, J. M. Petit, K. Zahnle, L. Biennier, S. Picaud, T. V. Johnson, J. B.A. Mitchell, V. Boudon, D. Cordier, M. Devel, R. Georges, C. Griffith, N. Iro, M. S. Marley, U. Marboeuf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Favored theories of giant planet formation center around two main paradigms, namely the core accretion model and the gravitational instability model. These two formation scenarios support the hypothesis that the giant planet metallicities should be higher or equal to that of the parent star. Meanwhile, spectra of the transiting hot Jupiter HD189733b suggest that carbon and oxygen abundances range from depleted to enriched with respect to the star. Here, using a model describing the formation sequence and composition of planetesimals in the protoplanetary disk, we determine the range of volatile abundances in the envelope of HD189733b that is consistent with the 20-80 M * of heavy elements estimated to be present in the planet's envelope. We then compare the inferred carbon and oxygen abundances to those retrieved from spectroscopy, and we find a range of supersolar values that directly fit both spectra and internal structure models. In some cases, we find that the apparent contradiction between the subsolar elemental abundances and the mass of heavy elements predicted in HD189733b by internal structure models can be explained by the presence of large amounts of carbon molecules in the form of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and soots in the upper layers of the envelope, as suggested by recent photochemical models. A diagnostic test that would confirm the presence of these compounds in the envelope is the detection of acetylene. Several alternative hypotheses that could also explain the subsolar metallicity of HD189733b are formulated: the possibility of differential settling in its envelope, the presence of a larger core that did not erode with time, a mass of heavy elements lower than the one predicted by interior models, a heavy element budget resulting from the accretion of volatile-poor planetesimals in specific circumstances, or the combination of all these mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2011


  • Planets and satellites: composition
  • Planets and satellites: formation
  • Planets and satellites: general
  • Planets and satellites: individual (HD189733B)
  • Protoplanetary disks
  • Stars: abundances

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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