Exoplanet transit spectroscopy using WFC3: WASP-12 b, WASP-17 b, and WASP-19 b

Avi M. Mandell, Korey Haynes, Evan Sinukoff, Nikku Madhusudhan, Adam S. Burrows, Drake Deming

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

75 Scopus citations

Abstract

We report an analysis of transit spectroscopy of the extrasolar planets WASP-12 b, WASP-17 b, and WASP-19 b using the Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) on the Hubble Space Telescope (HST). We analyze the data for a single transit for each planet using a strategy similar, in certain aspects, to the techniques used by Berta et al., but we extend their methodology to allow us to correct for channel- or wavelength-dependent instrumental effects by utilizing the band-integrated time series and measurements of the drift of the spectrum on the detector over time. We achieve almost photon-limited results for individual spectral bins, but the uncertainties in the transit depth for the band-integrated data are exacerbated by the uneven sampling of the light curve imposed by the orbital phasing of HST's observations. Our final transit spectra for all three objects are consistent with the presence of a broad absorption feature at 1.4 μm most likely due to water. However, the amplitude of the absorption is less than that expected based on previous observations with Spitzer, possibly due to hazes absorbing in the NIR or non-solar compositions. The degeneracy of models with different compositions and temperature structures combined with the low amplitude of any features in the data preclude our ability to place unambiguous constraints on the atmospheric composition without additional observations with WFC3 to improve the signal-to-noise ratio and/or a comprehensive multi-wavelength analysis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number128
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Volume779
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 20 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

Keywords

  • planetary systems
  • techniques: photometric
  • techniques: spectroscopic

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