Water Vapor in the Spectrum of the Extrasolar Planet HD 189733b

By Keith Cowing
July 14, 2014
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Water Vapor in the Spectrum of the Extrasolar Planet HD 189733b

We report near-infrared spectroscopy of the gas giant planet HD 189733b in transit. We used the Hubble Space Telescope Wide Field Camera 3 (HST WFC3) with its G141 grism covering 1.1 um to 1.7 um and spatially scanned the image across the detector at 2\arcsecs−1.

When smoothed to 75 nm bins, the local maxima of the transit depths in the 1.15 um and 1.4 um water vapor features respectively are 83+/-53 ppm and 200+/-47 ppm greater than the local minimum at 1.3 um. We compare the WFC3 spectrum with the composite transit spectrum of HD 189733b assembled by Pont et al. (2013), extending from 0.3 um to 24 um. Although the water vapor features in the WFC3 spectrum are compatible with the model of non-absorbing, Rayleigh-scattering dust in the planetary atmosphere (Pont et al. 2013), we also re-interpret the available data with a clear planetary atmosphere.

In the latter interpretation, the slope of increasing transit depth with shorter wavelengths from the near infrared, through the visible and into the ultraviolet is caused by unocculted star spots, with a smaller contribution of Rayleigh scattering by molecular hydrogen in the planet’s atmosphere. At relevant pressures along the terminator, our model planetary atmosphere’s temperature is ~700 K, which is below the condensation temperatures of sodium- and potassium-bearing molecules, causing the broad wings of the spectral lines of Na I and K I at 0.589 um and 0.769 um to be weak.

P. R. McCullough, N. Crouzet, D. Deming, N. Madhusudhan (Submitted on 9 Jul 2014)

Comments: 14 pages, 5 figures, Accepted to ApJ

Subjects: Solar and Stellar Astrophysics (astro-ph.SR); Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)

Cite as: arXiv:1407.2462 [astro-ph.SR] (or arXiv:1407.2462v1 [astro-ph.SR] for this version)

Submission history From: Peter R. McCullough [v1] Wed, 9 Jul 2014 12:46:10 GMT (1244kb)

Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA Space Station Payload manager/space biologist, Away Teams, Journalist, Lapsed climber, Synaesthete, Na’Vi-Jedi-Freman-Buddhist-mix, ASL, Devon Island and Everest Base Camp veteran, (he/him) 🖖🏻