Searching for aurorae at HD 209458 b

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Searching for aurorae at HD 209458 b

Post by Sirius_Alpha on 17th February 2010, 9:36 pm

Searching for Far-Ultraviolet Auroral/Dayglow Emission from HD209458b

Abstract wrote:We present recent observations from the HST-Cosmic Origins Spectrograph aimed at characterizing the auroral emission from the extrasolar planet HD209458b. We obtained medium-resolution (R~18-20,000) far-ultraviolet (1150-1700A) spectra at both the Phase 0.25 and Phase 0.75 quadrature positions as well as a stellar baseline measurement at secondary eclipse. This analysis includes a catalog of stellar emission lines and a star-subtracted spectrum of the planet. We present an emission model for planetary H2 emission, and compare this model to the planetary spectrum. No unambiguously identifiable atomic or molecular features are detected, and upper limits are presented for auroral/dayglow line strengths. An orbital velocity cross-correlation analysis finds a statistically significant (3.8 sigma) feature at +15 (+/- 20) km/s in the rest frame of the planet, at 1582 A. This feature is consistent with emission from H2 B-X (2-9) P(4) (lambda_{rest} = 1581.11 A), however the physical mechanism required to excite this transition is unclear. We compare limits on relative line strengths seen in the exoplanet spectrum with models of ultraviolet fluorescence to constrain the atmospheric column density of neutral hydrogen between the star and the planetary surface. These results support models of short period extrasolar giant planets with weak magnetic fields and extended atomic atmospheres.

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