Corona-like atmospheric escape from KBOs. II. The behavior of aerosols

Amit Levi, Morris Podolak*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In Levi and Podolak (Levi, A., Podolak, M. [in press] Icarus) we applied the theory of coronal expansion to gas escape from a small, cold, object such as those found in the Kuiper belt. Here we extend the theory to include aerosols that are lifted off the surface by the escaping gas. Aerosols carried by the gas but still gravitationally bound, tend to be lifted to a height above the surface that is dependent on the aerosol radius, so that in steady state the variation of aerosol radius with height is well-defined. We develop an extension of Parker's coronal flow theory to include the effect of aerosols carried along by the gas and use this to estimate the optical depth of such an atmosphere. For KBOs with CO evaporation from the surface and with radii in the range 245-334 km, line-of-site optical depths through the atmosphere can exceed one at heights of a few hundred kilometers above the surface. Such aerosol layers should be observable, and might be used to infer the flow proprieties of the escaping gas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)610-625
Number of pages16
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 2009


  • Atmospheres
  • Dynamics
  • Kuiper belt
  • Trans-Neptunian objects


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