Publications by Xianyu Tan


Evidence for H2 dissociation and recombination heat transport in the atmosphere of KELT-9b

Astrophysical Journal Letters American Astronomical Society 888 (2020) L15

M Mansfield, JL Bean, KB Stevenson, TD Komacek, TJ Bell, X Tan, M Malik, TG Beatty, I Wong, NB Cowan, L Dang, J-M Désert, JJ Fortney, BS Gaudi, D Keating, L Kreidberg, EM-R Kempton, V Parmentier, KG Stassun


The atmospheric circulation of ultra-hot Jupiters

Astrophysical Journal American Astronomical Society 886 (2019) 1-20

X Tan, T Komacek


Atmospheric Variability Driven by Radiative Cloud Feedback in Brown Dwarfs and Directly Imaged Extrasolar Giant Planets

Astrophysical Journal American Astronomical Society 874 (2019)

X Tan, AP Showman

Growing observational evidence has suggested active meteorology in the atmospheres of brown dwarfs (BDs) and directly imaged extrasolar giant planets (EGPs). In particular, a number of surveys have shown that near-infrared brightness variability is common among L and T dwarfs. Despite the likelihood from previous studies that atmospheric dynamics is the major cause of the variability, the detailed mechanism of the variability remains elusive, and we need to seek a natural, self-consistent mechanism. Clouds are important in shaping the thermal structure and spectral properties of these atmospheres via their opacity, and we expect the same for inducing atmospheric variability. In this work, using a time-dependent one-dimensional model that incorporates a self-consistent coupling between the thermal structure, convective mixing, cloud radiative heating/cooling, and condensation/evaporation of clouds, we show that radiative cloud feedback can drive spontaneous atmospheric variability in both temperature and cloud structure under conditions appropriate for BDs and directly imaged EGPs. The typical periods of variability are 1 to tens of hr, with a typical amplitude of the variability up to hundreds of K in effective temperature. The existence of variability is robust over a wide range of parameter space, but the detailed evolution of the variability is sensitive to model parameters. Our novel, self-consistent mechanism has important implications for the observed flux variability of BDs and directly imaged EGPs, especially for objects whose variability evolves on short timescales. It is also a promising mechanism for cloud breaking, which has been proposed to explain the L/T transition of BDs.


Atmospheric circulation of brown dwarfs and Jupiter- and Saturn-like planets: Zonal jets, long-term variability, and QBO-type oscillations

Astrophysical Journal American Astronomical Society 883 (2019)

AP Showman, X Tan, X Zhang

Brown dwarfs and directly imaged giant planets exhibit significant evidence for active atmospheric circulation, which induces a large-scale patchiness in the cloud structure that evolves significantly over time, as evidenced by infrared light curves and Doppler maps. These observations raise critical questions about the fundamental nature of the circulation, its time variability, and its overall relationship to the circulation on Jupiter and Saturn. Jupiter and Saturn themselves exhibit numerous robust zonal (east–west) jet streams at the cloud level; moreover, both planets exhibit long-term stratospheric oscillations involving perturbations of zonal wind and temperature that propagate downward over time on timescales of ~4 yr (Jupiter) and ~15 yr (Saturn). These oscillations, dubbed the quasi-quadrennial oscillation (QQO) for Jupiter and the semiannual oscillation (SAO) on Saturn, are thought to be analogous to the quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO) on Earth, which is driven by upward propagation of equatorial waves from the troposphere. To investigate these issues, we here present global, three-dimensional, high-resolution numerical simulations of the flow in the stratified atmosphere—overlying the convective interior—of brown dwarfs and Jupiter-like planets. The effect of interior convection is parameterized by inducing small-scale, randomly varying perturbations in the radiative–convective boundary at the base of the model. Radiative damping is represented using an idealized Newtonian cooling scheme. In the simulations, the convective perturbations generate atmospheric waves and turbulence that interact with the rotation to produce numerous zonal jets. Moreover, the equatorial stratosphere exhibits stacked eastward and westward jets that migrate downward over time, exactly as occurs in the terrestrial QBO, Jovian QQO, and Saturnian SAO. This is the first demonstration of a QBO-like phenomenon in 3D numerical simulations of a giant planet.


Effects of dissociation/recombination on the day–night temperature contrasts of ultra-hot Jupiters

Research Notes of the AAS American Astronomical Society 2 (2018) 36

TD Komacek, X Tan


Effects of latent heating on atmospheres of brown dwarfs and directly imaged planets

Astrophysical Journal American Astronomical Society 835 (2017) 186-186

X Tan, AP Showman

The growing number of observations of brown dwarfs (BDs) has provided evidence for strong atmospheric circulation on these objects. Directly imaged planets share similar observations and can be viewed as low-gravity versions of BDs. Vigorous condensate cycles of chemical species in their atmospheres are inferred by observations and theoretical studies, and latent heating associated with condensation is expected to be important in shaping atmospheric circulation and influencing cloud patchiness. We present a qualitative description of the mechanisms by which condensational latent heating influences circulation, and then illustrate them using an idealized general circulation model that includes a condensation cycle of silicates with latent heating and molecular weight effect due to the rainout of the condensate. Simulations with conditions appropriate for typical T dwarfs exhibit the development of localized storms and east–west jets. The storms are spatially inhomogeneous, evolving on a timescale of hours to days and extending vertically from the condensation level to the tropopause. The fractional area of the BD covered by active storms is small. Based on a simple analytic model, we quantitatively explain the area fraction of moist plumes and show its dependence on the radiative timescale and convective available potential energy (CAPE). We predict that if latent heating dominates cloud formation processes, the fractional coverage area of clouds decreases as the spectral type goes through the L/T transition from high to lower effective temperature. This is a natural consequence of the variation of the radiative timescale and CAPE with the spectral type.


Atmospheric circulation of hot Jupiters: dayside–nightside temperature differences. II. Comparison with observations

Astrophysical Journal American Astronomical Society 835 (2017) 198

TD Komacek, AP Showman, X Tan

The full-phase infrared light curves of low-eccentricity hot Jupiters show a trend of increasing fractional dayside–nightside brightness temperature difference with increasing incident stellar flux, both averaged across the infrared and in each individual wavelength band. The analytic theory of Komacek & Showman shows that this trend is due to the decreasing ability with increasing incident stellar flux of waves to propagate from day to night and erase temperature differences. Here, we compare the predictions of this theory with observations, showing that it explains well the shape of the trend of increasing dayside–nightside temperature difference with increasing equilibrium temperature. Applied to individual planets, the theory matches well with observations at high equilibrium temperatures but, for a fixed photosphere pressure of $100\ \mathrm{mbar}$, systematically underpredicts the dayside–nightside brightness temperature differences at equilibrium temperatures less than $2000\ {\rm{K}}$. We interpret this as being due to the effects of a process that moves the infrared photospheres of these cooler hot Jupiters to lower pressures. We also utilize general circulation modeling with double-gray radiative transfer to explore how the circulation changes with equilibrium temperature and drag strengths. As expected from our theory, the dayside–nightside temperature differences from our numerical simulations increase with increasing incident stellar flux and drag strengths. We calculate model phase curves using our general circulation models, from which we compare the broadband infrared offset from the substellar point and dayside–nightside brightness temperature differences against observations, finding that strong drag or additional effects (e.g., clouds and/or supersolar metallicities) are necessary to explain many observed phase curves.


Precise radial velocities of giant stars

Astronomy and Astrophysics EDP Sciences 568 (2014) 15-

T Trifonov, S Reffert, X Tan, MH Lee, A Quirrenbach

We report the discovery of a new planetary system around the K giant η Cet (HIP 5364, HD 6805, HR 334) based on 118 high-precision optical radial velocities taken at Lick Observatory since July 2000. Since October 2011 an additional nine near-infrared Doppler measurements have been taken using the ESO CRIRES spectrograph (VLT, UT1). The visible data set shows two clear periodicities. Although we cannot completely rule out that the shorter period is due to rotational modulation of stellar features, the infrared data show the same variations as in the optical, which strongly supports that the variations are caused by two planets. Assuming the mass of η Cet to be 1.7 M⊙, the best edge-on coplanar dynamical fit to the data is consistent with two massive planets (mb sini = 2.6 ± 0.2 MJup, mc sini = 3.3 ± 0.2 MJup), with periods of Pb = 407 ± 3 days and Pc = 740 ± 5 days and eccentricities of eb = 0.12 ± 0.05 and ec = 0.08 ± 0.04. These mass and period ratios suggest possible strong interactions between the planets, and a dynamical test is mandatory. We tested a wide variety of edge-on coplanar and inclined planetary configurations for stability, which agree with the derived radial velocities. We find that for a coplanar configuration there are several isolated stable solutions and two well defined stability regions. In certain orbital configurations with moderate eb eccentricity, the planets can be effectively trapped in an anti-aligned 2:1 mean motion resonance that stabilizes the system. A much larger non-resonant stable region exists in low-eccentricity parameter space, although it appears to be much farther from the best fit than the 2:1 resonant region. In all other cases, the system is categorized as unstable or chaotic. Another conclusion from the coplanar inclined dynamical test is that the planets can be at most a factor of ~1.4 more massive than their suggested minimum masses. Assuming yet higher inclinations, and thus larger planetary masses, leads to instability in all cases. This stability constraint on the inclination excludes the possibility of two brown dwarfs, and strongly favors a planetary system.


Characterizing the orbital and dynamical state of the HD 82943 planetary system with keck radial velocity data

Astrophysical Journal American Astronomical Society 777 (2013) 101-101

X Tan, MJ Payne, MH Lee, EB Ford, AW Howard, JA Johnson, GW Marcy, JT Wright

We present an updated analysis of radial velocity data of the HD 82943 planetary system based on 10 yr of measurements obtained with the Keck telescope. Previous studies have shown that the HD 82943 system has two planets that are likely in 2:1 mean-motion resonance (MMR), with orbital periods about 220 and 440 days. However, alternative fits that are qualitatively different have also been suggested, with two planets in a 1:1 resonance or three planets in a Laplace 4:2:1 resonance. Here we use χ2 minimization combined with a parameter grid search to investigate the orbital parameters and dynamical states of the qualitatively different types of fits, and we compare the results to those obtained with the differential evolution Markov chain Monte Carlo method. Our results support the coplanar 2:1 MMR configuration for the HD 82943 system, and show no evidence for either the 1:1 or three-planet Laplace resonance fits. The inclination of the system with respect to the sky plane is well constrained at $20^{+4.9}_{-5.5}$ degrees, and the system contains two planets with masses of about 4.78 M J and 4.80 M J (where M J is the mass of Jupiter) and orbital periods of about 219 and 442 days for the inner and outer planet, respectively. The best fit is dynamically stable with both eccentricity-type resonant angles θ1 and θ2 librating around 0°.


A detailed analysis of the HD 73526 2:1 resonant planetary system

Astrophysical Journal IOP Publishing 780 (2013) 140-

X Tan, RA Wittenmyer, MH Lee, J Horner, CG Tinney, RP Butler, GS Salter, HRA Jones, BD Carter, SJ O'Toole, J Bailey, JD Crane, D Wright, P Arriagada, I Thompson, D Minniti, M Diaz

<p style="text-align:justify;"> We present six years of new radial velocity data from the Anglo-Australian and Magellan Telescopes on the HD 73526 2:1 resonant planetary system. We investigate both Keplerian and dynamical (interacting) fits to these data, yielding four possible configurations for the system. The new data now show that both resonance angles are librating, with amplitudes of 40° and 60°, respectively. We then perform long-term dynamical stability tests to differentiate these solutions, which only differ significantly in the masses of the planets. We show that while there is no clearly preferred system inclination, the dynamical fit with i = 90° provides the best combination of goodness-of-fit and long-term dynamical stability. </p>