Andreea Munteanu, Ricard Solé

Paper #: 04-06-012

The large-scale organization of complex networks, both natural and artificial, has shown the existence of highly heterogeneous patterns of organization. Such patterns typically involve scale-free degree distributions and small world, modular architectures. One example is provided by chemical reaction networks, such as the metabolic pathways. The chemical reactions of the Earth's atmosphere have also been shown to give rise to a scale-free network. Here we present novel data analysis on the structure of several astrophysical networks including the chemistry of the planetary atmospheres and the interstellar medium. Our work reveals that Earth's atmosphere displays a hierarchical organization, close to the one observed in cellular webs. Instead, the other astrophysical reaction networks reveal a much simpler pattern consistent with an equilibrium state. The implications for large-scale regulation of the planetary dynamics are outlined.