Corona-like atmospheric escape from KBOs. I. Gas dynamics

Amit Levi, Morris Podolak*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We show that for low temperatures (T ∼ 30   K) and small, but non-negligible, gravitational fields the hydrodynamic escape of gas can be treated by Parker's theory of coronal expansion [Parker, E.N., 1963. Interplanetary Dynamical Processes. Interscience Publishers, New York]. We apply this theory to gas escape from Kuiper belt objects. We derive limits on the density and radius of the bodies for which this theory is applicable, and show how the flow depends on the mean molecular weight and internal degrees of freedom of the gas molecules. We use these results to explain the CH4 dichotomy seen on KBOs [Schaller, E.L., Brown, M.E., 2007. Astrophys. J., 659, L61-L64].

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)681-693
Number of pages13
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2009


  • Abundances
  • Kuiper belt
  • Trans-neptunian objects
  • atmospheres


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