EDP Sciences
Free access
Volume 496, Number 3, March IV 2009
Page(s) 869 - 877
Section Planets and planetary systems
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361/200810509
Published online 30 January 2009
A&A 496, 869-877 (2009)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/200810509

Consequences of expanding exoplanetary atmospheres for magnetospheres

E. P. G. Johansson1, T. Bagdonat1, and U. Motschmann1, 2

1  Institute for Theoretical Physics, TU Braunschweig, Mendelssohnstrasse 3, 38106 Braunschweig, Germany
    e-mail: [e.johansson;u.motschmann]@tu-bs.de
2  Institute for Planetary Research, DLR, Berlin, Germany

Received 3 July 2008 / Accepted 5 January 2009

The atmospheres of close-in extrasolar planets are expected to both undergo hydrodynamic expansion due to strong heating and produce strong expanding ionospheres due to intense photoionization, while at the same time being exposed to strong stellar winds. This scenario can be expected to lead to new types of magnetospheres and previously unseen interactions between stellar wind plasma and ionospheres. Our aim is to start looking at these kinds of scenarios for close-in terrestrial planets using hybrid simulations.
For this purpose we used a hybrid code, treating electrons as a massless, charge-neutralizing, adiabatic fluid and ions as macroparticles, to study the influence of a strongly expanding ionosphere on the stellar wind interaction for an unmagnetized close-in extrasolar terrestrial planet.
For both with and without expansion, we can identify bow shock, magnetopause, and ion-composition boundary. The expanding ionosphere pushes the bow shock, magnetic draping, and ion composition boundary upstream and increases the size of the entire interaction region, creating a large wake behind the planet, largely void of electromagnetic fields and dominated only by the expanding ionosphere. On the dayside, little ionospheric radial bulk flow is actually observed since the ions are quickly thermalized after being added to the ionosphere.

Key words: plasmas -- stars: planetary systems -- stars: winds, outflows -- magnetic fields

© ESO 2009