Status Report

Effects of Latent Heating on Atmospheres of Brown Dwarfs and Directly Imaged Planets

By SpaceRef Editor
January 17, 2017
Filed under , , ,

Xianyu Tan, Adam P. Showman
(Submitted on 10 Jan 2017)

Growing observations of brown dwarfs have provided evidence for strong atmospheric circulation on these objects. Directly imaged planets share similar observations, and can be viewed as low-gravity versions of brown dwarfs. Vigorous condensate cycles of chemical species in their atmospheres are inferred by observations and theoretical studies, and latent heating associated with condensation is expected to be important in shaping atmospheric circulation and influencing cloud patchiness. We present a qualitative description of the mechanisms by which condensational latent heating influence the circulation, and then illustrate them using an idealized general circulation model that includes a condensation cycle of silicates with latent heating and molecular weight effect due to rainout of condensate. Simulations with conditions appropriate for typical T dwarfs exhibit the development of localized storms and east-west jets. The storms are spatially inhomogeneous, evolving on timescale of hours to days and extending vertically from the condensation level to the tropopause. The fractional area of the brown dwarf covered by active storms is small. Based on a simple analytic model, we quantitatively explain the area fraction of moist plumes, and show its dependence on radiative timescale and convective available potential energy. We predict that, if latent heating dominates cloud formation processes, the fractional coverage area by clouds decreases as the spectral type goes through the L/T transition from high to lower effective temperature. This is a natural consequence of the variation of radiative timescale and convective available potential energy with spectral type.

Comments:    13 pages, 8 figures, accepted for publication in ApJ
Subjects:    Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP); Solar and Stellar Astrophysics (astro-ph.SR)
Cite as:    arXiv:1701.02782 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:1701.02782v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Xianyu Tan 
[v1] Tue, 10 Jan 2017 20:50:40 GMT (2882kb,D)

SpaceRef staff editor.