The atmosphere of Kepler-13Ab

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The atmosphere of Kepler-13Ab

Post by Shellface on 21st December 2016, 4:38 pm

Evidence for Atmospheric Cold-trap Processes in the Non-inverted Emission Spectrum of Kepler-13Ab Using HST/WFC3

We observed two eclipses of the Kepler-13A planetary system, on UT 2014 April 28 and UT 2014 October 13, in the near-infrared using Wide Field Camera 3 on the Hubble Space Telescope. By using the nearby binary stars Kepler-13BC as a reference, we were able to create a differential light curve for Kepler-13A that had little of the systematics typically present in HST/WFC3 spectrophotometry. We measure a broadband (1.1μm to 1.65μm) eclipse depth of 73428 ppm, and are able to measure the emission spectrum of the planet at R≈50 with an average precision of 70 ppm. Our observations do not well sample either the eclipse ingress or egress, and so we are not able to provide meaningful constraints on the eclipse timing offset observed by Shporer et al. (2014). We do find that our observations, combined with those of Shporer et al. (2014) give an average dayside brightness temperature of 3000 K, and are consistent with a non-inverted, monotonically decreasing vertical temperature profile at 2.4σ. We exclude an isothermal profile and an inverted profile. We also find that the dayside emission of Kepler-13Ab appears generally similar to an isolated M7 brown dwarf at a similar effective temperature. Due to the relatively high mass and surface gravity of Kepler-13Ab, we suggest that the apparent lack of an inversion is due to cold-trap processes in the planet's atmosphere. Using a toy-model for where cold-traps should inhibit inversions, and observations of other planets in this temperature range with measured emission spectra, we argue that with more detailed modeling and more observations we may be able to place useful constraints on the size of condensates on the daysides of hot Jupiters.

Something not noted in the abstract is that the absorption detected at 1.4μm is attributed to H2O. How, I wonder, does H2O behave at 3000 K? What would it make the planetary atmosphere look like?

The Shporer et al. (2014) referred to numerous times is this paper:

Atmospheric Characterization of the Hot Jupiter Kepler-13Ab

Kepler-13Ab (= KOI-13.01) is a unique transiting hot Jupiter. It is one of very few known short-period planets orbiting a hot A-type star, making it one of the hottest planets currently known. The availability of Kepler data allows us to measure the planet's occultation (secondary eclipse) and phase curve in the optical, which we combine with occultations observed by warm Spitzer at 4.5 mic and 3.6 mic and a ground-based occultation observation in the Ks band (2.1 mic). We derive a day-side hemisphere temperature of 2,750 +- 160 K as the effective temperature of a black body showing the same occultation depths. Comparing the occultation depths with one-dimensional planetary atmosphere models suggests the presence of an atmospheric temperature inversion. Our analysis shows evidence for a relatively high geometric albedo, Ag= 0.33 +0.04 -0.06. While measured with a simplistic method, a high Ag is supported also by the fact that the one-dimensional atmosphere models underestimate the occultation depth in the optical. We use stellar spectra to determine the dilution, in the four wide bands where occultation was measured, due to the visual stellar binary companion 1.15 +- 0.05" away. The revised stellar parameters measured using these spectra are combined with other measurements leading to revised planetary mass and radius estimates of Mp = 4.94 - 8.09 Mjup and Rp = 1.406 +- 0.038 Rjup. Finally, we measure a Kepler mid-occultation time that is 34.0 +- 6.9 s earlier than expected based on the mid-transit time and the delay due to light travel time, and discuss possible scenarios.


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