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Toward 3D Retrieval of Exoplanet Atmospheres: Assessing Thermochemical Equilibrium Estimation Methods

Michael D. Himes‚ Josepth Harrington and Atılım Güneş Baydin


Characterizing exoplanetary atmospheres via Bayesian retrievals requires assuming some chemistry model, such as thermochemical equilibrium or parameterized abundances. The higher-resolution data offered by upcoming telescopes enable more complex chemistry models within retrieval frameworks. Yet many chemistry codes that model more complex processes like photochemistry and vertical transport are computationally expensive, and directly incorporating them into a 1D retrieval model can result in prohibitively long execution times. Additionally, phase-curve observations with upcoming telescopes motivate 2D and 3D retrieval models, further exacerbating the lengthy runtime for retrieval frameworks with complex chemistry models. Here we compare thermochemical equilibrium approximation methods based on their speed and accuracy with respect to a Gibbs energy-minimization code. We find that, while all methods offer orders-of-magnitude reductions in computational cost, neural network surrogate models perform more accurately than the other approaches considered, achieving a median absolute dex error of

The Planetary Science Journal
American Astronomical Society