Atmospheres & Climate

A Roadmap To The Efficient And Robust Characterization Of Temperate Terrestrial Planet Atmospheres With JWST

By Keith Cowing
Status Report
November 1, 2023
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A Roadmap To The Efficient And Robust Characterization Of Temperate Terrestrial Planet Atmospheres With JWST
Constraining the surface heterogeneities of a host star. a. A simulated 3.3-d full rotation curve of TRAPPIST-1 (black line) featuring nine transits of six planets (coloured lines). b. A snapshot of the spot distribution at the last rotational phase of the simulation shown in panel a, with the transit chords of planets b, c, d, and e. c. Contaminated transmission spectra for the same transit train of planets b–e (coloured lines). A nominal planet radius of 1 R⊕ (dashed gray line) is used for each planet to ease comparisons of the TLS effect for each planet. d. The residual stellar contamination signals for the simulated transits of planets c–e (coloured lines), after correcting for the TLS effect using the in-transit signal from planet b. A median-subtracted model of an atmosphere (see Figure 2) is shown for comparison (gray dashed line). e. Close-up view of the transit profiles for the four-planet transit train, highlighting repeated occultations of the same active regions by planets b and d as well as c and e, whose transit chords overlap in this simulation. — astro-ph.EP

Ultra-cool dwarf stars are abundant, long-lived, and uniquely suited to enable the atmospheric study of transiting terrestrial companions with JWST. Amongst them, the most prominent is the M8.5V star TRAPPIST-1 and its seven planets, which have been the favored targets of eight JWST Cycle 1 programs.

While Cycle 1 observations have started to yield preliminary insights into the planets, they have also revealed that their atmospheric exploration requires a better understanding of their host star. Here, we propose a roadmap to characterize the TRAPPIST-1 system — and others like it — in an efficient and robust manner.

We notably recommend that — although more challenging to schedule — multi-transit windows be prioritized to constrain stellar heterogeneities and gather up to 2× more transits per JWST hour spent. We conclude that in such systems planets cannot be studied in isolation by small programs, thus large-scale community-supported programs should be supported to enable the efficient and robust exploration of terrestrial exoplanets in the JWST era.

Julien de Wit, René Doyon, Benjamin V. Rackham, Olivia Lim, Elsa Ducrot, Laura Kreidberg, Björn Benneke, Ignasi Ribas, David Berardo, Prajwal Niraula, Aishwarya Iyer, Alexander Shapiro, Nadiia Kostogryz, Veronika Witzke, Michaël Gillon, Eric Agol, Victoria Meadows, Adam J. Burgasser, James E. Owen, Jonathan J. Fortney, Franck Selsis, Aaron Bello-Arufe, Emeline Bolmont, Nicolas Cowan, Chuanfei Dong, Jeremy J. Drake, Lionel Garcia, Thomas Greene, Thomas Haworth, Renyu Hu, Stephen R. Kane, Pierre Kervella, Daniel Koll, Joshua Krissansen-Totton, Pierre-Olivier Lagage, Tim Lichtenberg, Jacob Lustig-Yaeger, Manasvi Lingam, Martin Turbet, Sara Seager, Khalid Barkaoui, Taylor J. Bell, Artem Burdanov, Charles Cadieux, Benjamin Charnay, Ryan Cloutier, Neil J. Cook, Alexandre C. M. Correia, Lisa Dang, Tansu Daylan, Laetitia Delrez, Billy Edwards, Thomas J. Fauchez, Laura Flagg, Federico Fraschetti, Jacob Haqq-Misra, Ziyu Huang, Nicolas Iro, Ray Jayawardhana, Emmanuel Jehin, Meng Jin, Edwin Kite, Daniel Kitzmann, Quentin Kral, David Lafrenière, Anne-Sophie Libert, Beibei Liu, Subhanjoy Mohanty, Brett M. Morris, Catriona A. Murray, Caroline Piaulet, Francisco J. Pozuelos, Michael Radica, Sukrit Ranjan, Alexander Rathcke, Pierre-Alexis Roy, Edward W. Schwieterman, Jake D. Turner, Amaury Triaud, Michael J. Way

Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP); Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics (astro-ph.IM); Solar and Stellar Astrophysics (astro-ph.SR)
Cite as: arXiv:2310.15895 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:2310.15895v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Benjamin Rackham
[v1] Tue, 24 Oct 2023 14:50:36 UTC (1,052 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) 🖖🏻