Imaging & Spectroscopy

Hubble WFC3 Spectroscopy of the Rocky Planet L 98-59 b: No Evidence for a Cloud-Free Primordial Atmosphere

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
October 20, 2022
Filed under , , , , , , ,
Hubble WFC3 Spectroscopy of the Rocky Planet L 98-59 b: No Evidence for a Cloud-Free Primordial Atmosphere
Spectral light curves for the transmission spectra. Left panel: the detrended spectral light curves with best-fit model plotted. The right panel reveals the residuals. For each spectra, we present the values of σ, chi-square (χ 2 ) and the AC. astro-ph.EP

We are using archived data from HST of transiting exoplanet L~98-59~b to place constraints on its potentially hot atmosphere.

We analyze the data from five transit visits and extract the final combined transmission spectrum using Iraclis.

Then we use the inverse atmospheric retrieval code TauREx to analyze the combined transmission spectrum. There is a weak absorption feature near 1.40~μm and 1.55~μm in the transmission spectrum, which can be modeled by a cloudy atmosphere with abundant HCN.

However, the unrealistically high abundance of HCN derived cannot be explained by any equilibrium chemical model with reasonable assumptions. Thus, the likeliest scenario is that L~98-59~b has a flat, featureless transmission spectrum in the WFC3/G141 bandpass due to a thin atmosphere with high mean molecular weight, an atmosphere with an opaque aerosol layer, or no atmosphere, and it is very unlikely for L~98-59~b to have a clear hydrogen-dominated primary atmosphere.

Due to the narrow wavelength coverage and low spectral resolution of HST/WFC3 G141 grism observation, we cannot tell these different scenarios apart. Our simulation shows future higher precision measurements over wider wavelengths from the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) can be used to better characterize the planetary atmosphere of L~98-59~b.

Li Zhou, Bo Ma, Yonghao Wang, Yinan Zhu

Comments: 15 pages, 11 figures, 6 tables, accepted for publication in AJ
Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)
Cite as: arXiv:2210.10699 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:2210.10699v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Li Zhou

[v1] Wed, 19 Oct 2022 16:26:14 UTC (1,154 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) 🖖🏻