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Models of Neptune-Mass Exoplanets: Emergent Fluxes and Albedos

  • Spiegel, David S.
  • Burrows, Adam
  • Ibgui, Laurent
  • Hubeny, Ivan
  • Milsom, John A.
Published Article
Publication Date
Feb 24, 2010
Submission Date
Sep 11, 2009
DOI: 10.1088/0004-637X/709/1/149
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There are now many known exoplanets with Msin(i) within a factor of two of Neptune's, including the transiting planets GJ436b and HAT-P-11b. Planets in this mass-range are different from their more massive cousins in several ways that are relevant to their radiative properties and thermal structures. By analogy with Neptune and Uranus, they are likely to have metal abundances that are an order of magnitude or more greater than those of larger, more massive planets. This increases their opacity, decreases Rayleigh scattering, and changes their equation of state. Furthermore, their smaller radii mean that fluxes from these planets are roughly an order of magnitude lower than those of otherwise identical gas giant planets. Here, we compute a range of plausible radiative equilibrium models of GJ436b and HAT-P-11b. In addition, we explore the dependence of generic Neptune-mass planets on a range of physical properties, including their distance from their host stars, their metallicity, the spectral type of their stars, the redistribution of heat in their atmospheres, and the possible presence of additional optical opacity in their upper atmospheres.

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