Exoplanets & Exomoons

Unveiling Non-gray Surface Of Cloudy Exoplanets

By Keith Cowing
April 29, 2022
Filed under
Unveiling Non-gray Surface Of Cloudy Exoplanets
A comparison between retrieved ocean albedo to the truth at the phase of quadrature and crescent. The retrieved ocean glint albedo is shown with blue dashed curves compared to the true values (black dotted curves). Similarly, the inferred ocean albedo at the quadrature phase is given with purple dashed curves. The colored shaded regions indicate the 1σ uncertainty envelopes for the retrieved albedo.

Direct-imaging spectra hold rich information about a planet’s atmosphere and surface, and several space-based missions aiming at such observations will become a reality in the near future.

Previous spectral retrieval works have resulted in key atmospheric constraints under the assumption of a gray surface, but the effect of wavelength-dependent surface albedo on retrieval has not been shown. We explore the influence of the coupling effect of cloud and wavelength-dependent surface albedo on retrieval performance via modeling suites of Earth-like atmospheres with varying cloud and surface albedo parameterizations.

Under the assumption of known cloud scattering properties, the surface spectral albedos can be reasonably recovered when the surface cover represents that of Earth-like vegetation or ocean, which may aid in characterizing the planet’s habitability. When the cloud scattering properties cannot be assumed, we show that the degeneracy between the cloud properties and wavelength-dependent surface albedo leads to biased results of atmospheric and cloud properties. The multi-epoch visible band observations offer limited improvement in disentangling this degeneracy.

However, the constraints on atmospheric properties from the combination of UV band (R ∼6) + visible band (R ∼140) are consistent with input values to within 1 σ. If short bandpass data is not available, an alternative solution to reduce the retrieval uncertainties would be to have the prior constraints on planetary cloud fraction with less than 20% uncertainty.

Unveiling Non-gray Surface Of Cloudy Exoplanets: The influence of wavelength-dependent surface albedo and cloud scattering properties on retrieval solutions

Fei Wang, Yuka Fujii, Jinping He

Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)
Cite as: arXiv:2204.13452 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:2204.13452v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Fei Wang
[v1] Thu, 28 Apr 2022 12:35:01 UTC (10,587 KB)

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) 🖖🏻