Atmosphere of HD 97658 b

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Atmosphere of HD 97658 b

Post by Sirius_Alpha on 19th March 2014, 8:54 pm

Hubble Space Telescope Near-IR Transmission Spectroscopy of the Super-Earth HD 97658b
http://arxiv.org/abs/1403.4602

Recent results from the Kepler mission indicate that super-Earths (planets with masses between 1-10 times that of the Earth) are the most common kind of planet around nearby Sun-like stars. These planets have no direct solar system analogue, and are currently one of the least well-understood classes of extrasolar planets. Many super-Earths have average densities that are consistent with a broad range of bulk compositions, including both water-dominated worlds and rocky planets covered by a thick hydrogen and helium atmosphere. Measurements of the transmission spectra of these planets offer the opportunity to resolve this degeneracy by directly constraining the scale heights and corresponding mean molecular weights of their atmospheres. We present Hubble Space Telescope near-infrared spectroscopy of two transits of the newly discovered transiting super-Earth HD 97658b. We use the Wide Field Camera 3's scanning mode to measure the wavelength-dependent transit depth in thirty individual bandpasses. Our averaged differential transmission spectrum has a median 1 sigma uncertainty of 19 ppm in individual bins, making this the most precise observation of an exoplanetary transmission spectrum obtained with WFC3 to date. Our data are inconsistent with a cloud-free solar metallicity atmosphere at the 17 sigma level. They are a good match for flat models corresponding to either a metal-rich atmosphere or a solar metallicity atmosphere with a cloud or haze layer located at pressures of a mbar or higher.

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Re: Atmosphere of HD 97658 b

Post by Sirius_Alpha on 15th September 2016, 8:35 pm

Well the planet isn't loosing a significant amount of hydrogen.

No hydrogen exosphere detected around the super-Earth HD97658 b
http://arxiv.org/abs/1609.04416

The exoplanet HD97658b provides a rare opportunity to probe the atmospheric composition and evolution of moderately irradiated super-Earths. It transits a bright K star at a moderate orbital distance of 0.08 au. Its low density is compatible with a massive steam envelope that could photodissociate at high altitudes and become observable as escaping hydrogen. Our analysis of 3 transits with HST/STIS at Ly-alpha reveals no such signature, suggesting that the thermosphere is not hydrodynamically expanding and is subjected to a low escape of neutral hydrogen (<10^8 g/s at 3 sigma). Using HST Ly-alpha and Chandra & XMM-Newton observations at different epochs, we find that HD97658 is a weak and soft X-ray source with signs of chromospheric variability in the Ly-alpha line core. We determine an average reference for the intrinsic Ly-alpha line and XUV spectrum of the star, and show that HD97658 b is in mild conditions of irradiation compared to other known evaporating exoplanets with an XUV irradiation about 3 times lower than the evaporating warm Neptune GJ436 b. This could be why the thermosphere of HD97658b is not expanding: the low XUV irradiation prevents an efficient photodissociation of any putative steam envelope. Alternatively, it could be linked to a low hydrogen content or inefficient conversion of the stellar energy input. The HD97658 system provides clues for understanding the stability of low-mass planet atmospheres. Our study of HD97658 b can be seen as a control experiment of our methodology, confirming that it does not bias detections of atmospheric escape and underlining its strength and reliability. Our results show that stellar activity can be efficiently discriminated from absorption signatures by a transiting exospheric cloud. They also highlight the potential of observing the upper atmosphere of small transiting planets to probe their physical and chemical properties

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