Using a three-dimensional general circulation model, we create dynamical model atmospheres of a representative transiting giant exoplanet, HD 209458b. We post-process these atmospheres with an opacity code to obtain transit radius spectra during the primary transit. Using a spectral atmosphere code, we integrate over the face of the planet seen by an observer at various orbital phases and calculate light curves as a function of wavelength and for different photometric bands. The products of this study are generic predictions for the phase variations of a zero-eccentricity giant planet's transit spectrum and of its light curves. We find that for these models the temporal variations in all quantities and the ingress/egress contrasts in the transit radii are small (<1.0%). Moreover, we determine that the day/night contrasts and phase shifts of the brightness peaks relative to the ephemeris are functions of photometric band. The J, H, and K bands are shifted most, while the IRAC bands are shifted least. Therefore, we verify that the magnitude of the downwind shift in the planetary "hot spot" due to equatorial winds is strongly wavelength dependent. The phase and wavelength dependence of light curves, as well as the associated day/night contrasts, can be used to constrain the circulation regime of irradiated giant planets and to probe different pressure levels of a hot Jupiter atmosphere.We posit that though our calculations focus on models of HD 209458b, similar calculations for other transiting hot Jupiters in low-eccentricity orbits should yield transit spectra and light curves of a similar character.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science
- Planetary systems
- Planets and satellites: general
- Stars: individual (HD 209458)