We find that a theoretical fit to all the HD 209458b data at secondary eclipse requires that the day-side atmosphere of HD 209458b have a thermal inversion and a stratosphere. This inversion is caused by the capture of optical stellar flux by an absorber of uncertain origin that resides at altitude. One consequence of stratospheric heating and temperature inversion is the flipping of water absorption features into emission features from the near- to the mid-infrared, and we see evidence of such a water emission feature in the recent HD 209458b IRAC data of Knutson et al. In addition, an upper-atmosphere optical absorber may help explain both the weaker-thanexpected Na D feature seen in transit and the fact that the transit radius at 24 μm is smaller than the corresponding radius in the optical. Moreover, it may be a factor in why HD 209458b's optical transit radius is as large as it is. We speculate on the nature of this absorber and the planets whose atmospheres may, or may not, be affected by its presence.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science
- Planetary systems
- Planets and satellites: general
- Stars: individual (HD 209458)