Hot planetary winds near a star: Dynamics, wind-wind interactions, and observational signatures

Jonathan Carroll-Nellenback, Adam Frank, Baowei Liu, Alice C. Quillen, Eric G. Blackman, Ian Dobbs-Dixon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Signatures of 'evaporative' winds from exoplanets on short (hot) orbits around their host star have been observed in a number of systems. In this paper, we present global adaptive mesh refinement simulations that track the launching of the winds, their expansion through the circumstellar environment, and their interaction with a stellar wind. We focus on purely hydrodynamic flows including the anisotropy of the wind launching and explore the orbital/fluid dynamics of the resulting flows in detail. In particular, we find that a combination of the tidal and Coriolis forces strongly distorts the planetary 'Parker' wind creating 'up-orbit' and 'down-orbit' streams. We characterize the flows in terms of their orbital elements that change depending on their launch position on the planet. We find that the anisotropy in the atmospheric temperature leads to significant backflow on to the planet. The planetary wind interacts strongly with the stellar wind creating instabilities that may cause eventual deposition of planetary gas on to the star. We present synthetic observations of both transit and absorption line-structure for our simulations. For our initial conditions, we find that the orbiting wind material produces absorption signatures at significant distances from the planet and substantial orbit-to-orbit variability. Lyα absorption shows red- and blueshifted features out to 70 km s−1. Finally, using semi-analytic models we constrain the effect of radiation pressure, given the approximation of uniform stellar absorption.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2458-2473
Number of pages16
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2017


  • Hydrodynamics
  • Planet-star interactions
  • Planets and satellites: atmospheres

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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