Three-dimensional atmospheric circulation of warm and hot jupiters: Effects of orbital distance, rotation period, and nonsynchronous rotation

Adam P. Showman, Nikole K. Lewis, Jonathan J. Fortney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


Efforts to characterize extrasolar giant planet (EGP) atmospheres have so far emphasized planets within 0.05 AU of their stars. Despite this focus, known EGPs populate a continuum of orbital separations from canonical hot Jupiter values (0.03-0.05 AU) out to 1 AU and beyond. Unlike typical hot Jupiters, these more distant EGPs will not generally be synchronously rotating. In anticipation of observations of this population, we here present three-dimensional atmospheric circulation models exploring the dynamics that emerge over a broad range of rotation rates and incident stellar fluxes appropriate for warm and hot Jupiters. We find that the circulation resides in one of two basic regimes. On typical hot Jupiters, the strong day-night heating contrast leads to a broad, fast superrotating (eastward) equatorial jet and large day-night temperature differences. At faster rotation rates and lower incident fluxes, however, the day-night heating gradient becomes less important, and baroclinic instabilities emerge as a dominant player, leading to eastward jets in the midlatitudes, minimal temperature variations in longitude, and, often, weak winds at the equator. Our most rapidly rotating and least irradiated models exhibit similarities to Jupiter and Saturn, illuminating the dynamical continuum between hot Jupiters and the weakly irradiated giant planets of our own solar system. We present infrared (IR) light curves and spectra of these models, which depend significantly on incident flux and rotation rate. This provides a way to identify the regime transition in future observations. In some cases, IR light curves can provide constraints on the rotation rate of nonsynchronously rotating planets.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number95
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 10 2015


  • methods: numerical
  • planets and satellites: atmospheres
  • planets and satellites: gaseous planets
  • planets and satellites: individual (HD 189733b)
  • turbulence
  • waves

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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