Circulation and dissipation on hot jupiters

J. Li, J. Goodman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Many global circulation models predict supersonic zonal winds and large vertical shears in the atmospheres of short-period Jovian exoplanets. Using linear analysis and nonlinear local simulations, we investigate hydrodynamic dissipation mechanisms to balance the thermal acceleration of these winds. The adiabatic Richardson criterion remains a good guide to linear stability, although thermal diffusion allows some modes to violate it at very long wavelengths and very low growth rates. Nonlinearly, wind speeds saturate at Mach numbers ≈2 and Richardson numbers ≲ 1/4 for a broad range of plausible diffusivities and forcing strengths. Turbulence and vertical mixing, though accompanied by weak shocks, dominate the dissipation, which appears to be the outcome of a recurrent Kelvin-Helmholtz instability. An explicit shear viscosity, as well as thermal diffusivity, is added to ZEUS to capture dissipation outside of shocks. The wind speed is neither monotonic nor single valued for a range of shear viscosities larger than about 10-3 of the sound speed times the pressure scale height. Coarsening the numerical resolution can also increase the speed. Hence global simulations that are incapable of representing vertical turbulence and shocks, either because of reduced physics or because of limited resolution, may overestimate wind speeds.We recommend that such simulations include artificial dissipation terms to control the Mach and Richardson numbers and to capture mechanical dissipation as heat.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1146-1158
Number of pages13
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 10 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • Binaries: close
  • Hydrodynamics
  • Instabilities
  • Planetary systems
  • Shock waves
  • Turbulence


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