Astronomy & Telescopes

How to Characterize the Atmosphere of a Transiting Exoplanet

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
October 10, 2018
Filed under
How to Characterize the Atmosphere of a Transiting Exoplanet
Transiting Exoplanet

This tutorial is an introduction to techniques used to characterize the atmospheres of transiting exoplanets. We intend it to be a useful guide for the undergraduate, graduate student, or postdoctoral scholar who wants to begin research in this field, but who has no prior experience with transiting exoplanets.

We begin with a discussion of the properties of exoplanetary systems that allow us to measure exoplanetary spectra, and the principles that underlie transit techniques. Subsequently, we discuss the most favorable wavelengths for observing, and explain the specific techniques of secondary eclipses and eclipse mapping, phase curves, transit spectroscopy, and convolution with spectral templates. Our discussion includes factors that affect the data acquisition, and also a separate discussion of how the results are interpreted. Other important topics that we cover include statistical methods to characterize atmospheres such as stacking, and the effects of stellar activity. We conclude by projecting the future utility of large-aperture observatories such as the James Webb Space Telescope and the forthcoming generation of extremely large ground-based telescopes.

Drake Deming, Dana Louie, Holly Sheets
(Submitted on 9 Oct 2018)

Comments: Invited tutorial paper, in press for PASP. 25 pages, 18 figures
Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP); Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics (astro-ph.IM)
Cite as: arXiv:1810.04175 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:1810.04175v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Drake Deming
[v1] Tue, 9 Oct 2018 18:00:01 GMT (5119kb,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) πŸ––πŸ»