Wednesday, July 31, 2013

1307.8038 (Konstantin Batygin et al.)

Magnetically Controlled Circulation on Hot Extrasolar Planets    [PDF]

Konstantin Batygin, Sabine Stanley, David J. Stevenson
Through the process of thermal ionization, intense stellar irradiation renders Hot Jupiter atmospheres electrically conductive. Simultaneously, lateral variability in the irradiation drives the global circulation with peak wind speeds of order ~ km/s. In turn, the interactions between the atmospheric flows and the background magnetic field give rise to Lorentz forces that can act to perturb the flow away from its purely hydrodynamical counterpart. Using analytical theory and numerical simulations, here we show that significant deviations away from axisymmetric circulation are unstable in presence of a non-negligible axisymmetric magnetic field. Specifically, our results suggest that dayside-to-nightside flows, often obtained within the context of three-dimensional circulation models, only exist on objects with anomalously low magnetic fields, while the majority of highly irradiated exoplanetary atmospheres are entirely dominated by zonal jets.
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