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Fast Fractals: Aggregate Aerosols in the Virga Cloud Code

Presentation #410.09 in the session Exoplanet Atmospheres: Terrestrial Planets (Oral Presentation)

Published onOct 23, 2023
Fast Fractals: Aggregate Aerosols in the Virga Cloud Code

We introduce a new module with the open-source Virga cloud modeling code to treat fractal aggregate aerosol particles. Previously, Virga assumed spherical aerosol particles, while substantial evidence from the Solar System suggests that fractal particles are common. Following recent advances made to extend microphysical models to non-spherical particles, we implement a simple parametrization for dynamical and optical effects of fractal particles within the existing Virga framework. We then perform a case study of the well-characterized mini-Neptune GJ 1214 b to demonstrate how our new fractal treatment affects theoretical spectra of these worlds and how these compare to existing observations, as well as how our method compares to previous fractal aggregate particle treatments. We also provide testable predictions for future observations, such as from JWST and ARIEL, to better characterize and understand potentially a range of hazy or cloudy planetary atmospheres.

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