NERD ALERT! NERD ALERT! ………… WEAR NERD HELMET NOW!!!
Last year, I helped develop a computer model of the atmosphere of extrasolar planets. The model was ‘1D’, meaning it was a single column through the atmosphere, immediately below the star. I’m currently extending that model to be 3D (like the weather models on Earth, simulating the whole globe). It’s tricky as these models can be very unstable, especially as this one uses a vertical height grid. Most Earth models use a more stable pressure grid – each vertical ‘level’ is a constant pressure instead of height. We need a height grid because the extrasolar planets we are studying are super-close to their star and have crazy (like “whoa!”) heating, so the pressure type models have assumptions which aren’t appropriate.
Anyhooooo ….. below is a simple little animation from my first simulation to run 10 days (a big hurdle). I’ve started by simulating Jupiter, which is a much calmer, less extreme environment that a close-in extrasolar planet. The animation shows temperature (colours), and winds (little arrows). The bright colours are the bits heated by the sun, moving as Jupiter rotates. The winds mostly blow eastwards (left to right), due to something called the Coriolis acceleration, which is caused by spinning (every 9 hours 56 minutes). We have the same type of thing on Earth, it’s what causes the jet stream and winds to blow in a circle around low or high pressure (eg hurricanes, which can seriously ruin a holiday).
NERD DANGER RECEDING!! …….YOU MAY NOW REMOVE NERD HELMETS!!! …. REPEAT, YOU MAY NOW REMOVE NERD HELMETS!!!