Exoplanets & Exomoons

Fourier Spectra From Exoplanets With Polar Caps and Ocean Glint

By Keith Cowing
March 17, 2015
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Fourier Spectra From Exoplanets With Polar Caps and Ocean Glint
Extrasolar planet with ice caps

The weak orbital-phase dependent reflection signal of an exoplanet contains information on the planet surface, such as the distribution of continents and oceans on terrestrial planets.

This light curve is usually studied in the time domain, but because the signal from a stationary surface is (quasi)periodic, analysis of the Fourier series may provide an alternative, complementary approach.

We study Fourier spectra from reflected light curves for geometrically simple configurations. Depending on its atmospheric properties, a rotating planet in the habitable zone could have circular polar ice caps. Tidally locked planets, on the other hand, may have symmetric circular oceans facing the star. These cases are interesting because the high-albedo contrast at the sharp edges of the ice-sheets and the glint from the host star in the ocean may produce recognizable light curves with orbital periodicity, which could also be interpreted in the Fourier domain.

We derive a simple general expression for the Fourier coefficients of a quasiperiodic light curve in terms of the albedo map of a Lambertian planet surface. Analytic expressions for light curves and their spectra are calculated for idealized situations, and dependence of the spectral peaks on key parameters inclination, obliquity, and cap size are studied.

P.M. Visser, F.J. van de Bult (Submitted on 17 Mar 2015) Comments: 15 pages, 2 tables, 13 figures

Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)

Cite as: arXiv:1503.05059 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:1503.05059v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)

Submission history From: Paul Martijn Visser Ph.D. [v1] Tue, 17 Mar 2015 14:08:50 GMT (253kb,D) http://arxiv.org/abs/1503.05059

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) 🖖🏻