Atmospheric electrification in dusty, reactive gases in the solar system and beyond

Christiane Helling, R. Giles Harrison, Farideh Honary, Declan A. Diver, Karen Aplin, Ian Dobbs-Dixon, Ute Ebert, Shu-ichiro Inutsuka, Francisco J. Gordillo-Vazquez, Stuart Littlefair

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


Detailed observations of the solar system planets reveal a wide variety of local atmospheric conditions. Astronomical observations have revealed a variety of extrasolar planets none of which resembles any of the solar system planets in full. Instead, the most massive amongst the extrasolar planets, the gas giants, appear very similar to the class of (young) brown dwarfs which are amongst the oldest objects in the universe. Despite this diversity, solar system planets, extrasolar planets and brown dwarfs have broadly similar global temperatures between 300 and 2500 K. In consequence, clouds of different chemical species form in their atmospheres. While the details of these clouds differ, the fundamental physical processes are the same. Further to this, all these objects were observed to produce radio and X-ray emission. While both kinds of radiation are well studied on Earth and to a lesser extent on the solar system planets, the occurrence of emission that potentially originates from accelerated electrons on brown dwarfs, extrasolar planets and protoplanetary disks is not well understood yet. This paper offers an inter-disciplinary view on electrification processes and their feedback on their hosting environment in meteorology, volcanology, planetology and research on extrasolar planets and planet formation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)705-756
Number of pages52
JournalSurveys in Geophysics
Issue number4
Early online date26 Apr 2016
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2016


  • Dust charging
  • Discharging
  • Solar system
  • Extrasolar planets
  • Moon
  • Asteroids
  • Electrification processes
  • Electrical phenomena


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