Toward More Reliable Analytic Thermochemical-equilibrium Abundances

Patricio E. Cubillos, Jasmina Blecic, Ian Dobbs-Dixon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Heng & Tsai developed an analytic framework to obtain thermochemical-equilibrium abundances for H 2 O, CO, CO 2 , CH 4 , C 2 H 2 , C 2 H 4 H , HCN, NH 3 , and N 2 for a system with known temperature, pressure, and elemental abundances (hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen). However, the implementation of their approach can become numerically unstable under certain circumstances, leading to inaccurate solutions (e.g., C/O≥1 atmospheres at low pressures). Building on their approach, we identified the conditions that prompt inaccurate solutions, and developed a new framework to avoid them, providing a reliable implementation for arbitrary values of temperature (200 to ∼2000 K), pressure (10-8 to 103 bar), and CNO abundances (10-3 to ∼10 2 × solar elemental abundances), for hydrogen-dominated atmospheres. The accuracy of our analytic framework is better than 10% for the more abundant species that have mixing fractions larger than 10-10, whereas the accuracy is better than 50% for the less abundant species. Additionally, we added the equilibrium-abundance calculation of atomic and molecular hydrogen into the system, and explored the physical limitations of this approach. Efficient and reliable tools, such as this one, are highly valuable for atmospheric Bayesian studies, which need to evaluate a large number of models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number111
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 10 2019


  • methods: analytical
  • planets and satellites: atmospheres
  • planets and satellites: composition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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