Thursday, April 4, 2013

1304.0993 (Bob Yunsheng Tian et al.)

Interior Structure of Water Planets: Implications for their dynamo source regions    [PDF]

Bob Yunsheng Tian, Sabine Stanley
Recent discoveries of water-rich, sub-Neptunian to Neptunian-massed exoplanets with short-period orbits present a new parameter space for the study of exoplanetary dynamos. We explore the geometry of the dynamo source region within this parameter space using 1-D interior structure models. We model planets with 4 chemically distinct layers that consist of (1) an iron core, (2) a silicate layer, (3) an H2O layer, and (4) an H/He envelope. By varying the total planetary mass in the range of 1 - 19 Earth masses, the mass fraction of the H/He envelope between 0.1 - 5.1%, and the equilibrium temperature between 100 - 1000 K, a survey of the parameter space for potential dynamo source region geometries is conducted. We find that due to the nature of the phase diagram of water at pressure and temperature conditions of planetary interiors, two different dynamo source region geometries are obtainable. Specifically, we find that smaller planets and planets with thicker H/He envelopes are likely to be in the regime of a thick-shelled dynamo. Massive planets and planets with thin H/He envelopes are likely to be in the regime of a thin-shelled dynamo. Also, small variations of these parameters can produce large interior structure differences. This implies the potential to constrain these parameters based on observations of a planet's magnetic field signature.
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