Exoplanets & Exomoons

A new statistical method for characterizing the atmospheres of extrasolar planets

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
June 14, 2017
Filed under
A new statistical method for characterizing the atmospheres of extrasolar planets

By detecting light from extrasolar planets,we can measure their compositions and bulk physical properties. The technologies used to make these measurements are still in their infancy, and a lack of self-consistency suggests that previous observations have underestimated their systemic errors.

We demonstrate a statistical method, newly applied to exoplanet characterization, which uses a Bayesian formalism to account for underestimated errorbars. We use this method to compare photometry of a substellar companion, GJ 758b, with custom atmospheric models. Our method produces a probability distribution of atmospheric model parameters including temperature, gravity, cloud model (fsed), and chemical abundance for GJ 758b. This distribution is less sensitive to highly variant data, and appropriately reflects a greater uncertainty on parameter fits.

Cassandra S. Henderson, Andrew J. Skemer, Caroline V. Morley, Jonathan J. Fortney
(Submitted on 14 Jun 2017)

Comments: Accepted to MNRAS
Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP); Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics (astro-ph.IM)
DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stx1495
Cite as: arXiv:1706.04581 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:1706.04581v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Cassandra Henderson
[v1] Wed, 14 Jun 2017 16:43:39 GMT (554kb,D)

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) 🖖🏻