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Physics  1998 

Chemical Equilibrium Abundances in Brown Dwarf and Extrasolar Giant Planet Atmospheres

DOI: 10.1086/306811

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We calculate detailed chemical abundance profiles for a variety of brown dwarf and extrasolar giant planet atmosphere models, focusing in particular on Gliese 229B, and derive the systematics of the changes in the dominant reservoirs of the major elements with altitude and temperature. We assume an Anders and Grevesse (1989) solar composition of 27 chemical elements and track 330 gas--phase species, including the monatomic forms of the elements, as well as about 120 condensates. We address the issue of the formation and composition of clouds in the cool atmospheres of substellar objects and explore the rain out and depletion of refractories. We conclude that the opacity of clouds of low--temperature ($\le$900 K), small--radius condensibles (specific chlorides and sulfides), may be responsible for the steep spectrum of Gliese 229B observed in the near infrared below 1 \mic. Furthermore, we assemble a temperature sequence of chemical transitions in substellar atmospheres that may be used to anchor and define a sequence of spectral types for substellar objects with T$_{eff}$s from $\sim$2200 K to $\sim$100 K.


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