Spectra of TRAPPIST-1 Planets b, c, d, e, f, and g

Fora ASTRO-FORUM NYT FRA VIDENSKABEN Spectra of TRAPPIST-1 Planets b, c, d, e, f, and g

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  • #316280

    Bjarne
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    • Super Nova

    The Near-Infrared Transmission Spectra of TRAPPIST-1 Planets b, c, d, e, f, and g and Stellar Contamination in Multi-Epoch Transit Spectra

    The seven approximately Earth-sized transiting planets in the TRAPPIST-1 system provide a unique opportunity to explore habitable zone and non-habitable zone small planets within the same system. Its habitable zone exoplanets — due to their favorable transit depths — are also worlds for which atmospheric transmission spectroscopy is within reach with the Hubble Space
    Telescope (HST) and with the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). We present here an independent reduction and analysis of two HST Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) near-infrared transit spectroscopy datasets for six planets (b through g). Utilizing our physically-motivated detector charge trap correction and a custom cosmic ray correction routine we confirm the general shape of the transmission spectra presented by deWit2016 for planets b and c. Our data reduction approach leads to a 25% increase in the usable data and reduces the risk of confusing astrophysical brightness variations (e.g., flares) with instrumental systematics. No prominent absorption features are detected in any individual planet’s transmission spectra; by contrast, the combined spectra of the planets show a clear inverted water absorption feature. We show that this feature — along with the Spitzer transit depth measurements — are fully consistent with stellar contamination, as predicted by Rackham2017b. These spectra demonstrate how stellar contamination can overwhelm planetary absorption features in low-resolution exoplanet transit spectra obtained by HST and JWST and also highlight the challenges in combining multi-epoch observations for planets around rapidly rotating spotted stars.

    #316318

    Bjarne
    Moderator
    • Super Nova

    Atmospheric reconnaissance of the habitable-zone Earth-sized planets orbiting TRAPPIST-1

    Seven temperate Earth-sized exoplanets readily amenable for atmospheric studies transit the nearby ultracool dwarf star TRAPPIST-1 (refs 1,2). Their atmospheric regime is unknown and could range from extended primordial hydrogen-dominated to depleted atmospheres (refs 3-6). Hydrogen in particular is a powerful greenhouse gas that may prevent the habitability of inner planets while enabling the habitability of outer ones (refs 6-8). An atmosphere largely dominated by hydrogen, if cloud-free, should yield prominent spectroscopic signatures in the near-infrared detectable during transits. Observations of the innermost planets have ruled out such signatures (ref 9). However, the outermost planets are more likely to have sustained such a Neptune-like atmosphere (refs 10,11). Here, we report observations for the four planets within or near the system’s habitable zone, the circumstellar region where liquid water could exist on a planetary surface (refs 12-14). These planets do not exhibit prominent spectroscopic signatures at near-infrared wavelengths either, which rules out cloud-free hydrogen-dominated atmospheres for TRAPPIST-1 d, e and f, with significance of 8, 6 and 4 sigma, respectively. Such an atmosphere is instead not excluded for planet g. As high-altitude clouds and hazes are not expected in hydrogen-dominated atmospheres around planets with such insolation (refs 15,16), these observations further support their terrestrial and potentially habitable nature.

     

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