Exploring the Diversity of Extrasolar Planets (SPP 1992)
The SPP 1992 studies the diversity and complexity of planets outside our solar system - so called exoplanets. It links observational methods for planet detection and characterization with state-of-the art theory and modeling. Here, at the MPS we investigate the atmospheric dynamics of a special class of exoplanets - Hot Jupiters - , as they are most prone to observational characterisation and show very interesting atmospheric phenomena.
One of the biggest surprises of the first decades of exoplanetary research are the numerous detection and the exciting properties of Jupiter-sized gas planets orbiting their host stars in close proximity and in a synchronous orbit. These so called Hot Jupiters are battered by intense stellar irradiation on the permanent day-side, which in turn drive fierce atmospheric flows reaching speeds of up to a few kilometers per second. As a consequence the brightest point on the surface is shifted in the direction of the wind, typically eastward. One aim of the project is to model infrared phase curves as seen from Spitzer or the JWST. Moreover, the tremendous atmospheric temperatures of up to thousands of Kelvin, require us to rethink the atmospheric circulation as a magnetohydrodynamic process, where strong flows interact with the intrinsic magnetic field and strongly enhanced electrical conductivity driven by thermal ionisation.