3D climate simulations of hot exoplanets

Lead Research Organisation: University of Oxford
Department Name: Oxford Physics


The project is directed at understanding the climate dynamics of hot sub-Neptune exoplanets, with particular regard to understanding the effect of condensible substances on the climate dynamics. An example of the kind of planet being considered is 55Cnc-e, with sodium and SiO in a noncondensing background atmosphere. One aim of the project is to identify observational signatures of the climate phenomena being investigated.


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Hammond M (2017) Linking the Climate and Thermal Phase Curve of 55 Cancri e in The Astrophysical Journal

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Pierrehumbert R (2019) Atmospheric Circulation of Tide-Locked Exoplanets in Annual Review of Fluid Mechanics

Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ST/N504233/1 30/09/2015 30/03/2021
1800140 Studentship ST/N504233/1 30/09/2016 29/09/2019 Mark David Hammond
ST/N504221/1 30/09/2015 30/03/2021
1800140 Studentship ST/N504221/1 30/09/2016 29/09/2019 Mark David Hammond
ST/R505006/1 30/09/2017 29/09/2021
1800140 Studentship ST/R505006/1 30/09/2016 29/09/2019 Mark David Hammond
Description We studied the atmospheres of exoplanets, which are planets orbiting stars other than the Sun. We focused on tidally locked exoplanets, which always point the same side towards their star so have a permanent day-side and a permanent night-side. We produced a theory to predict the speed of the atmospheric jet flowing around the equator of these planets, and showed this matched computer simulations. We also showed how this jet shifts the hottest part of the planet's atmosphere away from the point facing the star directly. We used this sort of theory to interpret real observations of the tidally locked "lava planet" 55 Cancri e, suggesting that the large shift in the position of its hottest part, plus the large different in temperature between its day-side and night-side, constrained the possible atmospheres that it could have.
This work formed my PhD thesis and was a foundation for my postdoctoral work.
Exploitation Route The theories can be used to interpret observations of exoplanets, and could be extended to describe the atmospheres of gaseous planets. The computational models developed are now being used by other researchers at the University of Oxford.
Sectors Other