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And the Saga Continues: The Story of Exoplanet WASP-12b

30 Apr 2015, 00:04 UTC
And the Saga Continues: The Story of Exoplanet WASP-12b
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

Title: A Detection of Water in the Transmission Spectrum of the Hot Jupiter WASP-12b and Implications for its Atmospheric Composition
Authors: Laura Kreidberg, Michael R. Line, Jacob L. Bean et al.
First Author’s Institution: University of Chicago
Although over 4,000 planet candidates have been discovered, only a handful of those candidates are eligible for atmospheric characterization with current ground and space based telescopes. Namely, in order to confirm a planet’s existence, you just need to detect the shadow of a planet as it moves in front of a star by measuring the brightness of the star (called photometry). Atmospheric characterization (through transmission spectroscopy) relies on the idea that as the planet passes in front of the disk of its parent star, some photons from the star must pass through the thin atmosphere of the planet. Depending on what gases lie in the planetary atmosphere, some photons will either be absorbed or transmitted. The photons you collect, then get spread out over wavelength to produce a spectrum. Therefore you need many more photons, or much a higher signal than from the photometric signal obtained during planet detection. Because of this, when a planet’s transit produces a high enough signal so ...

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