Ionization and transport in partially ionized multicomponent plasmas: Application to atmospheres of hot Jupiters
We study ionization and transport processes in partially ionized multicomponent plasmas. The plasma composition is calculated via a system of coupled mass-action laws. The electronic transport properties are determined by the electron-ion and electron-neutral transport cross sections. The influence of electron-electron scattering is considered via a correction factor to the electron-ion contribution. Based on these data, the electrical and thermal conductivities as well as the Lorenz number are calculated. For the thermal conductivity, we consider also the contributions of the translational motion of neutral particles and of the dissociation, ionization, and recombination reactions. We apply our approach to a partially ionized plasma composed of hydrogen, helium, and a small fraction of metals (Li, Na, Ca, Fe, K, Rb, and Cs) as typical for atmospheres of hot Jupiters. We present results for the plasma composition and the transport properties as a function of density and temperature and then along typical P -T profiles for the outer part of the hot Jupiter HD 209458b. The electrical conductivity profile allows revising the Ohmic heating power related to the fierce winds in the planet's atmosphere. We show that the higher temperatures suggested by recent interior models could boost the conductivity and thus the Ohmic heating power to values large enough to explain the observed inflation of HD 209458b.