CARBON DIOXIDE in EXOPLANETARY ATMOSPHERES

RARELY DOMINANT COMPARED to CARBON MONOXIDE and WATER in HOT, HYDROGEN-DOMINATED ATMOSPHERES

Kevin Heng, James Lyons

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25 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We present a comprehensive study of the abundance of carbon dioxide in exoplanetary atmospheres in hot, hydrogen-dominated atmospheres. We construct novel analytical models of systems in chemical equilibrium that include carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, water, methane and acetylene and relate the equilibrium constants of the chemical reactions to temperature and pressure via the tabulated Gibbs free energies. We prove that such chemical systems may be described by a quintic equation for the mixing ratio of methane. By examining the abundances of these molecules across a broad range of temperatures (spanning equilibrium temperatures from 600 to 2500 K), pressures (via temperature-pressure profiles that explore albedo and opacity variations) and carbon-to-oxygen ratios, we conclude that carbon dioxide is subdominant compared to carbon monoxide and water. Atmospheric mixing does not alter this conclusion if carbon dioxide is subdominant everywhere in the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide may attain comparable abundances if the metallicity is greatly enhanced, but this property is negated by temperatures above 1000 K. For hydrogen-dominated atmospheres, our generic result has the implication that retrieval studies may wish to set the subdominance of carbon dioxide as a prior of the calculation and not let its abundance completely roam free as a fitting parameter, because it directly affects the inferred value of the carbon-to-oxygen ratio and may produce unphysical conclusions. We discuss the relevance of these implications for the hot Jupiter WASP-12b and suggest that some of the previous results are chemically impossible. The relative abundance of carbon dioxide to acetylene is potentially a sensitive diagnostic of the carbon-to-oxygen ratio.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number149
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Volume817
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2016

Fingerprint

carbon dioxide
hydrogen
atmospheres
atmosphere
carbon monoxide
acetylene
temperature
oxygen
carbon
methane
Gibbs free energy
mixing ratios
opacity
albedo
Jupiter (planet)
mixing ratio
Jupiter
chemical reaction
water
metallicity

Keywords

  • methods: analytical
  • planets and satellites: atmospheres

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

Cite this

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title = "CARBON DIOXIDE in EXOPLANETARY ATMOSPHERES: RARELY DOMINANT COMPARED to CARBON MONOXIDE and WATER in HOT, HYDROGEN-DOMINATED ATMOSPHERES",
abstract = "We present a comprehensive study of the abundance of carbon dioxide in exoplanetary atmospheres in hot, hydrogen-dominated atmospheres. We construct novel analytical models of systems in chemical equilibrium that include carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, water, methane and acetylene and relate the equilibrium constants of the chemical reactions to temperature and pressure via the tabulated Gibbs free energies. We prove that such chemical systems may be described by a quintic equation for the mixing ratio of methane. By examining the abundances of these molecules across a broad range of temperatures (spanning equilibrium temperatures from 600 to 2500 K), pressures (via temperature-pressure profiles that explore albedo and opacity variations) and carbon-to-oxygen ratios, we conclude that carbon dioxide is subdominant compared to carbon monoxide and water. Atmospheric mixing does not alter this conclusion if carbon dioxide is subdominant everywhere in the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide may attain comparable abundances if the metallicity is greatly enhanced, but this property is negated by temperatures above 1000 K. For hydrogen-dominated atmospheres, our generic result has the implication that retrieval studies may wish to set the subdominance of carbon dioxide as a prior of the calculation and not let its abundance completely roam free as a fitting parameter, because it directly affects the inferred value of the carbon-to-oxygen ratio and may produce unphysical conclusions. We discuss the relevance of these implications for the hot Jupiter WASP-12b and suggest that some of the previous results are chemically impossible. The relative abundance of carbon dioxide to acetylene is potentially a sensitive diagnostic of the carbon-to-oxygen ratio.",
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AB - We present a comprehensive study of the abundance of carbon dioxide in exoplanetary atmospheres in hot, hydrogen-dominated atmospheres. We construct novel analytical models of systems in chemical equilibrium that include carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, water, methane and acetylene and relate the equilibrium constants of the chemical reactions to temperature and pressure via the tabulated Gibbs free energies. We prove that such chemical systems may be described by a quintic equation for the mixing ratio of methane. By examining the abundances of these molecules across a broad range of temperatures (spanning equilibrium temperatures from 600 to 2500 K), pressures (via temperature-pressure profiles that explore albedo and opacity variations) and carbon-to-oxygen ratios, we conclude that carbon dioxide is subdominant compared to carbon monoxide and water. Atmospheric mixing does not alter this conclusion if carbon dioxide is subdominant everywhere in the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide may attain comparable abundances if the metallicity is greatly enhanced, but this property is negated by temperatures above 1000 K. For hydrogen-dominated atmospheres, our generic result has the implication that retrieval studies may wish to set the subdominance of carbon dioxide as a prior of the calculation and not let its abundance completely roam free as a fitting parameter, because it directly affects the inferred value of the carbon-to-oxygen ratio and may produce unphysical conclusions. We discuss the relevance of these implications for the hot Jupiter WASP-12b and suggest that some of the previous results are chemically impossible. The relative abundance of carbon dioxide to acetylene is potentially a sensitive diagnostic of the carbon-to-oxygen ratio.

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