Atmospheric Electrification in Dusty, Reactive Gases in the Solar System and Beyond

Christiane Helling, R. Giles Harrison, Farideh Honary, Declan A. Diver, Karen Aplin, Ian Dobbs-Dixon, Ute Ebert, Shu ichiro Inutsuka, Francisco J. Gordillo-Vazquez, Stuart Littlefair

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Detailed observations of the solar system planets reveal a wide variety of local atmospheric conditions. Astronomical observations have revealed a variety of extrasolar planets none of which resembles any of the solar system planets in full. Instead, the most massive amongst the extrasolar planets, the gas giants, appear very similar to the class of (young) brown dwarfs which are amongst the oldest objects in the Universe. Despite this diversity, solar system planets, extrasolar planets and brown dwarfs have broadly similar global temperatures between 300 and 2500 K. In consequence, clouds of different chemical species form in their atmospheres. While the details of these clouds differ, the fundamental physical processes are the same. Further to this, all these objects were observed to produce radio and X-ray emissions. While both kinds of radiation are well studied on Earth and to a lesser extent on the solar system planets, the occurrence of emissions that potentially originate from accelerated electrons on brown dwarfs, extrasolar planets and protoplanetary disks is not well understood yet. This paper offers an interdisciplinary view on electrification processes and their feedback on their hosting environment in meteorology, volcanology, planetology and research on extrasolar planets and planet formation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)705-756
Number of pages52
JournalSurveys in Geophysics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016


  • Asteroids
  • Discharging
  • Dust charging
  • Electrical phenomena
  • Electrification processes
  • Extrasolar planets
  • Moon
  • Solar system

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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