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Exoplanet Transit Spectroscopy Using WFC3: WASP-12 b, WASP-17 b, and WASP-19 b

Author(s): Mandell, Avi M; Haynes, Korey; Sinukoff, Evan; Madhusudhan, Nikku; Burrows, Adam S.; et al

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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.
Publication Date: 20-Dec-2013
Electronic Publication Date: 3-Dec-2013
Citation: Mandell, Avi M, Haynes, Korey, Sinukoff, Evan, Madhusudhan, Nikku, Burrows, Adam, Deming, Drake. (2013). Exoplanet Transit Spectroscopy Using WFC3: WASP-12 b, WASP-17 b, and WASP-19 b. apj, 779 (128 - 128. doi:10.1088/0004-637X/779/2/128
DOI: doi:10.1088/0004-637X/779/2/128
Type of Material: Journal Article
Journal/Proceeding Title: Astrophysical Journal
Version: Final published version. This is an open access article.

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