Dust cloud lightning in extraterrestrial atmospheres

Helling, C., Jardine, M., Diver, D. and Witte, S. (2013) Dust cloud lightning in extraterrestrial atmospheres. Planetary and Space Science, 77, pp. 152-157. (doi: 10.1016/j.pss.2012.07.003)

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Publisher's URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pss.2012.07.003


Lightning is present in all solar system planets which form clouds in their atmospheres. Cloud formation outside our solar system is possible in objects with much higher temperatures than on Earth or on Jupiter: Brown dwarfs and giant extrasolar gas planets form clouds made of mixed materials and a large spectrum of grain sizes. These clouds are globally neutral but we argue that mineral clouds in brown dwarfs and extrasolar planets are susceptible to local discharge events and that the upper cloud layers are most suitable for powerful lightning-like discharges. We discuss various sources of atmospheric ionisation, including thermal ionisation and a first estimate of ionisation by cosmic rays, and argue that we should expect thunderstorms also in the atmospheres of brown dwarfs and giant gas planets which contain mineral clouds.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Diver, Professor Declan
Authors: Helling, C., Jardine, M., Diver, D., and Witte, S.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Physics and Astronomy
Journal Name:Planetary and Space Science
ISSN (Online):1873-5088

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
542081Rolling Programme in Solar and Plasma AstrophysicsLyndsay FletcherScience & Technologies Facilities Council (STFC)ST/I001808/1P&A - PHYSICS & ASTRONOMY