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B.A.A. Hood, K. Wood (University of Saint Andrews), S. Seager (DTM, Carnegie Institution)
We have used a 3D Monte Carlo radiation transfer code to model the reflected starlight from extrasolar planet atmospheres. Our goal is to investigate the reflectivity of 3D extrasolar planet atmospheres so that we can guide the observations that seek to detect scattered light from extrasolar planets and those that attempt to characterize known extrasolar planets. We are specifically investigating the effect of 3D cloud structures on the atmosphere’s reflectivity. Our code simulates a fractal cloud distribution within a 3D Cartesian grid and includes support for multiple species with separate particle albedos and phase functions. Our initial simulations tested a single species atmosphere and found that varying the 3D cloud filling factor (or areal coverage) significantly affected the reflectivity of the atmosphere as a whole. We found that an atmosphere with 45% areal cloud coverage could have only 20% of the reflectivity of a homogeneous atmosphere with the same total mass. With further tests we hope to study the reflectivity of model extrasolar planetary atmospheres in several 3D cloud geometries. Ben Hood would like to thank the Marshall Commission for funding this research.
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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 37 #4
© 2005. The American Astronomical Soceity.