Aerosols in Planetary Atmospheres
NASA Ames / UCB
Abstract: The formation of aerosols – condensation clouds and photochemical hazes, for example – are common place in the atmospheres of Solar System planets, from the sulfuric acid clouds of Venus to the organic hazes of Pluto. Recent observations have shown that aerosols may be prevalent in exoplanet and brown dwarf atmospheres as well, where the hotter temperatures lead to the condensation of salts, sulfides, rocks, and metals, and the reduced conditions result in polysulfur and soot photochemical hazes. Aerosols greatly affect the radiative and chemical state of these atmospheres, and are thus vital to atmospheric characterization. The distribution of aerosols is controlled by aerosol microphysics, processes occurring on the scale of the particles themselves that respond to changing atmospheric and planetary conditions. In this talk I will show several applications of aerosol microphysics in planetary, exoplanetary, and brown dwarf atmospheres that can help us interpret the available data and elucidate the physical processes shaping clouds and hazes.