Temporal Variability in Hot Jupiter Atmospheres

Thaddeus D. Komacek, Adam P. Showman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Hot Jupiters receive intense incident stellar light on their daysides, which drives vigorous atmospheric circulation that attempts to erase their large dayside-to-nightside flux contrasts. Propagating waves and instabilities in hot Jupiter atmospheres can cause emergent properties of the atmosphere to be time-variable. In this work, we study such weather in hot Jupiter atmospheres using idealized cloud-free general circulation models with double-gray radiative transfer. We find that hot Jupiter atmospheres can be time-variable at the 0.1%-1% level in globally averaged temperature and at the 1%-10% level in globally averaged wind speeds. As a result, we find that observable quantities are also time-variable: The secondary eclipse depth can be variable at the ≲2% level, the phase-curve amplitude can change by ≲1%, the phase-curve offset can shift by ≲5°, and terminator-averaged wind speeds can vary by ≲2 km s-1. Additionally, we calculate how the eastern and western limb-averaged wind speeds vary with incident stellar flux and the strength of an imposed drag that parameterizes Lorentz forces in partially ionized atmospheres. We find that the eastern limb is blueshifted in models over a wide range of equilibrium temperature and drag strength, while the western limb is only redshifted if equilibrium temperatures are ≲1500 K and drag is weak. Lastly, we show that temporal variability may be observationally detectable in the infrared through secondary eclipse observations with the James Webb Space Telescope, phase-curve observations with future space telescopes (e.g., ARIEL), and/or Doppler wind speed measurements with high-resolution spectrographs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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