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Journal Articles The Astrophysical Journal Year : 2022

Deep Two-phase, Hemispherical Magma Oceans on Lava Planets


Astronomers have discovered a handful of exoplanets with rocky bulk compositions but orbiting that orbit so close to their host star that the surface of the planet must be at least partially molten. It is expected that the dayside of such "lava planets" harbors a rock-vapor atmosphere that flows quickly toward the airless nightside-this partial atmosphere is critical to the interpretation of lava planet observations, but transports negligible heat toward the nightside. As a result, the surface temperature of the magma ocean may range from 3000 K near the substellar point down to 1500 K near the day-night terminator. We use simple models incorporating the thermodynamics and geochemistry of partial melt to predict the physical and chemical properties of the magma ocean as a function of the distance from the substellar point. Our principal findings are that: (1) the dayside magma ocean is much deeper than previously thought, probably extending down to the core-mantle boundary below the substellar point of an Earth-sized planet; (2) much of the dayside is only partially molten, leading to gradients in the surface chemistry of the magma ocean; and (3) the temperature at the base of the silicate mantle is as important as the surface temperature. In the most extreme cases, lava planet interiors could be cold enough such that thermal stratification below the substellar point is gravitationally stable. These findings have important implications for the dynamics of the magma ocean, as well as the composition and dynamics of the atmosphere.
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insu-03824259 , version 1 (21-10-2022)





Charles-Édouard Boukaré, Nicolas B. Cowan, James Badro. Deep Two-phase, Hemispherical Magma Oceans on Lava Planets. The Astrophysical Journal, 2022, 936, ⟨10.3847/1538-4357/ac8792⟩. ⟨insu-03824259⟩
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