Concept

Atmospheric escape

Summary
Atmospheric escape is the loss of planetary atmospheric gases to outer space. A number of different mechanisms can be responsible for atmospheric escape; these processes can be divided into thermal escape, non-thermal (or suprathermal) escape, and impact erosion. The relative importance of each loss process depends on the planet's escape velocity, its atmosphere composition, and its distance from its star. Escape occurs when molecular kinetic energy overcomes gravitational energy; in other words, a molecule can escape when it is moving faster than the escape velocity of its planet. Categorizing the rate of atmospheric escape in exoplanets is necessary to determining whether an atmosphere persists, and so the exoplanet's habitability and likelihood of life. Thermal escape mechanisms Thermal escape occurs if the molecular velocity due to thermal energy is sufficiently high. Thermal escape happens at all scales, from the molecular level (Jeans escape) to bulk atmospheric outfl
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