LPL Colloquium: Dr. Xi Zhang

Weather Impact on the Cooling of Cold and Hot Giant Planets

Dr. Xi Zhang
Associate Professor, Earth and Planetary Sciences
University of California, Santa Cruz

I will discuss the impact of weather on heat flow and interior cooling in giant planets in and out of the Solar System. First, I will demonstrate that the conventional view of Jupiter's heat transfer through thermal convection is incorrect. Our recent cloud simulations reveal a stable, superadiabatic layer inside Jupiter, causing a warmer interior than previously assumed and potentially resolving the discrepancy in Juno gravity data. The stable layer divides Jupiter's weather layer into separate convective zones, hindering heat transport through convection. I propose that Jupiter's atmosphere functions like an air conditioner using water as the refrigerant. Second, I will present a theory that weather patterns on extra-solar gas giants cause significant horizontal inhomogeneities, increasing interior cooling flux compared to 1D estimates. I will also showcase our most recent 3D cloudy simulations of brown dwarf VHS 1256b, which provide insight into its rotational light curve and JWST spectra. I argue that a 3D weather model is imperative for interpreting infrared data and understanding planetary evolution in the era of JWST.

Host: Dr. Sukrit Ranjan


Tuesday, February 21, 2023 - 3:45pm