AdvisorShowman, Adam P.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThis dissertation explores the atmospheric circulation of extrasolar planets ranging from hot Jupiters to super Earths. For each of these studies, I utilize a three-dimensional circulation model coupled to a state-of-the-art, plane-parallel, two-stream, non-grey radiative transfer model dubbed the SPARC/MITgcm. First, I present models of the atmospheric circulation of eccentric hot Jupiters, a population which undergoes large variations in flux throughout their orbits. I demonstrate that the eccentric hot Jupiter regime is qualitatively similar to that of planets on circular orbits. For a select number of model integrations, I generate full-orbit lightcurves and find that the timing of transit and secondary eclipse viewed from Earth with respect to periapse and apoapse can greatly affect what is seen in infrared (IR) lightcurves. Next, I present circulation models of WASP-43b, a transiting hot Jupiter that is joining the ranks of HD 189733b and HD 209458b as a 'benchmark' hot Jupiter, with a wide array of observational constraints from the ground and space. Here I utilize the robust dataset of spectrophotometric observations taken with the Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) aboard the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) to interpret my model results. I find that an atmospheric composition of 5x solar provides the best match to the data, particularly in emission. Lastly, I present atmospheric simulations of the super Earth GJ 1214b, exploring the planet's circulation as a function of atmospheric metallicity and composition. I find that atmospheres with a low mean-molecular weight have strong day-night temperature variations at pressures above the infrared photosphere that lead to equatorial superrotation. For these atmospheres, the enhancement of atmospheric opacities with increasing metallicity leads to shallower atmospheric heating, larger day-night temperature variations and hence stronger superrotation. In comparison, atmospheres with a high mean-molecular weight have larger day-night and equator-to-pole temperature variations than low mean-molecular weight atmospheres, but differences in opacity structure and energy budget lead to differences in jet structure. By comparing emergent flux spectra and lightcurves for 50x solar and water-dominated compositions, I show that observations in emission can break the degeneracy in determining the atmospheric composition of GJ 1214b. In sum, these three studies explore exoplanet atmospheric circulation as a function of mass, radius, gravity, rotation rate, eccentricity and orbital distance.
Degree ProgramGraduate College