Exploring the diversity of Jupiter-class planets

Leigh N. Fletcher*, Patrick G.J. Irwin, Joanna K. Barstow, Remco J. De Kok, Jae Min Lee, Suzanne Aigrain

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Of the 900+ confirmed exoplanets discovered since 1995 for which we have constraints on their mass (i.e. not including Kepler candidates), 75% have masses larger than Saturn (0.3 MJ), 53% are more massive than Jupiter and 67% are within 1AU of their host stars. When Kepler candidates are included, Neptunesized giant planets could form the majority of the planetary population. And yet the term 'hot Jupiter' fails to account for the incredible diversity of this class of astrophysical object, which exists on a continuum of giant planets from the cool jovians of our own Solar System to the highly irradiated, tidally locked hot roasters. We review theoretical expectations for the temperatures, molecular composition and cloud properties of hydrogen-dominated Jupiterclass objects under a variety of different conditions. We discuss the classification schemes for these Jupiter-class planets proposed to date, including the implications for our own Solar System giant planets and the pitfalls associated with compositional classification at this early stage of exoplanetary spectroscopy. We discuss the range of planetary types described by previous authors, accounting for (i) thermochemical equilibrium expectations for cloud condensation and favoured chemical stability fields; (ii) the metallicity and formation mechanism for these giant planets; (iii) the importance of optical absorbers for energy partitioning and the generation of a temperature inversion; (iv) the favoured photochemical pathways and expectations for minor species (e.g. saturated hydrocarbons and nitriles); (v) the unexpected presence of molecules owing to vertical mixing of species above their quench levels; and (vi) methods for energy and material redistribution throughout the atmosphere (e.g. away from the highly irradiated daysides of close-in giants). Finally, we discuss the benefits and potential flaws of retrieval techniques for establishing a family of atmospheric solutions that reproduce the available data, and the requirements for future spectroscopic characterization of a set of Jupiter-class objects to test our physical and chemical understanding of these planets.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20130064
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences
Volume372
Issue number2014
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 28 Apr 2014
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Classification systems
  • Exoplanets
  • Jupiter

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