Imaging & Spectroscopy

The Prospect of Detecting Volcanic Signatures on an ExoEarth Using Direct Imaging

By Keith Cowing
Status Report
September 30, 2023
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The Prospect of Detecting Volcanic Signatures on an ExoEarth Using Direct Imaging
The reflectance spectra for each month of the baseline exoEarth simulation in comparison to months 12 and 96 of the 15 Gt eruption. Both plots show the same spectra but the upper panel is on a log scale and the lower panel is scaled linearly. — astro-ph.IM

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has provided the first opportunity to study the atmospheres of terrestrial exoplanets and estimate their surface conditions.

Earth-sized planets around Sun-like stars are currently inaccessible with JWST however, and will have to be observed using the next generation of telescopes with direct imaging capabilities. Detecting active volcanism on an Earth-like planet would be particularly valuable as it would provide insight into its interior, and provide context for the commonality of the interior states of Earth and Venus.

In this work we used a climate model to simulate four exoEarths over eight years with ongoing large igneous province eruptions with outputs ranging from 1.8-60 Gt of sulfur dioxide. The atmospheric data from the simulations were used to model direct imaging observations between 0.2-2.0 μm, producing reflectance spectra for every month of each exoEarth simulation. We calculated the amount of observation time required to detect each of the major absorption features in the spectra, and identified the most prominent effects that volcanism had on the reflectance spectra.

These effects include changes in the size of the O3, O2, and H2O absorption features, and changes in the slope of the spectrum. Of these changes, we conclude that the most detectable and least ambiguous evidence of volcanism are changes in both O3 absorption and the slope of the spectrum.

Colby M. Ostberg, Scott D. Guzewich, Stephen R. Kane, Erika Kohler, Luke D. Oman, Thomas J. Fauchez, Ravi K. Kopparapu, Jacob Richardson, Patrick Whelley

Comments: 13 pages, 5 figures, 4 tables, Accepted for publication in AJ (September 26, 2023)
Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP); Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics (astro-ph.IM)
Cite as: arXiv:2309.15972 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:2309.15972v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Colby Ostberg
[v1] Wed, 27 Sep 2023 19:43:07 UTC (293 KB)

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