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Title: Deciphering the atmospheric composition of WASP-12b: A comprehensive analysis of its dayside emission

Abstract

WASP-12b was the first planet reported to have a carbon-to-oxygen ratio (C/O) greater than one in its dayside atmosphere. However, recent work to further characterize its atmosphere and confirm its composition has led to incompatible measurements and divergent conclusions. Additionally, the recent discovery of stellar binary companions ∼1'' from WASP-12 further complicates the analyses and subsequent interpretations. We present a uniform analysis of all available Hubble and Spitzer Space Telescope secondary-eclipse data, including previously unpublished Spitzer measurements at 3.6 and 4.5 μm. The primary controversy in the literature has centered on the value and interpretation of the eclipse depth at 4.5 μm. Our new measurements and analyses confirm the shallow eclipse depth in this channel, as first reported by Campo and collaborators and used by Madhusudhan and collaborators to infer a carbon-rich composition. To explain WASP-12b's observed dayside emission spectrum, we implemented several recent retrieval approaches. We find that when we exclude absorption due to C{sub 2}H{sub 2} and HCN, which are not universally considered in the literature, our models require implausibly large atmospheric CO{sub 2} abundances, regardless of the C/O. By including C{sub 2}H{sub 2} and HCN in our models, we find that a physically plausible carbon-rich solution achievesmore » the best fit to the available photometric and spectroscopic data. In comparison, the best-fit oxygen-rich models have abundances that are inconsistent with the chemical equilibrium expectations for hydrogen-dominated atmospheres and are 670 times less probable. Our best-fit solution is also 7.3 × 10{sup 6} times more probable than an isothermal blackbody model.« less

Authors:
;  [1];  [2];  [3]
  1. Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, University of Chicago, 5640 South Ellis Avenue, Chicago, IL 60637 (United States)
  2. Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge, Madingley Road, Cambridge CB3 0HA (United Kingdom)
  3. Planetary Sciences Group, Department of Physics, University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL 32816-2385 (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22365383
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Astrophysical Journal; Journal Volume: 791; Journal Issue: 1; Other Information: Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
79 ASTROPHYSICS, COSMOLOGY AND ASTRONOMY; ABSORPTION; ABUNDANCE; ATMOSPHERES; CARBON; CARBON DIOXIDE; COMPARATIVE EVALUATIONS; ECLIPSE; EMISSION; EMISSION SPECTRA; EQUILIBRIUM; HYDROCYANIC ACID; HYDROGEN; MATHEMATICAL SOLUTIONS; OXYGEN; PLANETS; STARS; TELESCOPES

Citation Formats

Stevenson, Kevin B., Bean, Jacob L., Madhusudhan, Nikku, and Harrington, Joseph, E-mail: kbs@uchicago.edu. Deciphering the atmospheric composition of WASP-12b: A comprehensive analysis of its dayside emission. United States: N. p., 2014. Web. doi:10.1088/0004-637X/791/1/36.
Stevenson, Kevin B., Bean, Jacob L., Madhusudhan, Nikku, & Harrington, Joseph, E-mail: kbs@uchicago.edu. Deciphering the atmospheric composition of WASP-12b: A comprehensive analysis of its dayside emission. United States. doi:10.1088/0004-637X/791/1/36.
Stevenson, Kevin B., Bean, Jacob L., Madhusudhan, Nikku, and Harrington, Joseph, E-mail: kbs@uchicago.edu. Sun . "Deciphering the atmospheric composition of WASP-12b: A comprehensive analysis of its dayside emission". United States. doi:10.1088/0004-637X/791/1/36.
@article{osti_22365383,
title = {Deciphering the atmospheric composition of WASP-12b: A comprehensive analysis of its dayside emission},
author = {Stevenson, Kevin B. and Bean, Jacob L. and Madhusudhan, Nikku and Harrington, Joseph, E-mail: kbs@uchicago.edu},
abstractNote = {WASP-12b was the first planet reported to have a carbon-to-oxygen ratio (C/O) greater than one in its dayside atmosphere. However, recent work to further characterize its atmosphere and confirm its composition has led to incompatible measurements and divergent conclusions. Additionally, the recent discovery of stellar binary companions ∼1'' from WASP-12 further complicates the analyses and subsequent interpretations. We present a uniform analysis of all available Hubble and Spitzer Space Telescope secondary-eclipse data, including previously unpublished Spitzer measurements at 3.6 and 4.5 μm. The primary controversy in the literature has centered on the value and interpretation of the eclipse depth at 4.5 μm. Our new measurements and analyses confirm the shallow eclipse depth in this channel, as first reported by Campo and collaborators and used by Madhusudhan and collaborators to infer a carbon-rich composition. To explain WASP-12b's observed dayside emission spectrum, we implemented several recent retrieval approaches. We find that when we exclude absorption due to C{sub 2}H{sub 2} and HCN, which are not universally considered in the literature, our models require implausibly large atmospheric CO{sub 2} abundances, regardless of the C/O. By including C{sub 2}H{sub 2} and HCN in our models, we find that a physically plausible carbon-rich solution achieves the best fit to the available photometric and spectroscopic data. In comparison, the best-fit oxygen-rich models have abundances that are inconsistent with the chemical equilibrium expectations for hydrogen-dominated atmospheres and are 670 times less probable. Our best-fit solution is also 7.3 × 10{sup 6} times more probable than an isothermal blackbody model.},
doi = {10.1088/0004-637X/791/1/36},
journal = {Astrophysical Journal},
number = 1,
volume = 791,
place = {United States},
year = {Sun Aug 10 00:00:00 EDT 2014},
month = {Sun Aug 10 00:00:00 EDT 2014}
}
  • We analyze the emission spectrum of the hot Jupiter WASP-12b using our HELIOS-R retrieval code and HELIOS-K opacity calculator. When interpreting Hubble and Spitzer data, the retrieval outcomes are found to be prior-dominated. When the prior distributions of the molecular abundances are assumed to be log-uniform, the volume mixing ratio of HCN is found to be implausibly high. A VULCAN chemical kinetics model of WASP-12b suggests that chemical equilibrium is a reasonable assumption even when atmospheric mixing is implausibly rigorous. Guided by (exo)planet formation theory, we set Gaussian priors on the elemental abundances of carbon, oxygen, and nitrogen with themore » Gaussian peaks being centered on the measured C/H, O/H, and N/H values of the star. By enforcing chemical equilibrium, we find substellar O/H and stellar to slightly superstellar C/H for the dayside atmosphere of WASP-12b. The superstellar carbon-to-oxygen ratio is just above unity, regardless of whether clouds are included in the retrieval analysis, consistent with Madhusudhan et al. Furthermore, whether a temperature inversion exists in the atmosphere depends on one’s assumption for the Gaussian width of the priors. Our retrieved posterior distributions are consistent with the formation of WASP-12b in a solar-composition protoplanetary disk, beyond the water iceline, via gravitational instability or pebble accretion (without core erosion) and migration inward to its present orbital location via a disk-free mechanism, and are inconsistent with both in situ formation and core accretion with disk migration, as predicted by Madhusudhan et al. We predict that the interpretation of James Webb Space Telescope WASP-12b data will not be prior-dominated.« less
  • Hubble Space Telescope transit observations in the near-UV performed in 2009 made WASP-12b one of the most 'mysterious' exoplanets; the system presents an early ingress, which can be explained by the presence of optically thick matter located ahead of the planet at a distance of {approx}4-5 planet radii. This work follows previous attempts to explain this asymmetry with an exospheric outflow or a bow shock, induced by a planetary magnetic field, and provides a numerical solution of the early ingress, though we did not perform any radiative transfer calculation. We performed pure 3D gas dynamic simulations of the plasma interactionmore » between WASP-12b and its host star and describe the flow pattern in the system. In particular, we show that the overfilling of the planet's Roche lobe leads to a noticeable outflow from the upper atmosphere in the direction of the L{sub 1} and L{sub 2} points. Due to the conservation of the angular momentum, the flow to the L{sub 1} point is deflected in the direction of the planet's orbital motion, while the flow toward L{sub 2} is deflected in the opposite direction, resulting in a non-axisymmetric envelope, surrounding the planet. The supersonic motion of the planet inside the stellar wind leads to the formation of a bow shock with a complex shape. The existence of the bow shock slows down the outflow through the L{sub 1} and L{sub 2} points, allowing us to consider a long-living flow structure that is in the steady state.« less
  • We report the detection of the eclipse of the very hot Jupiter WASP-12b via z'-band time-series photometry obtained with the 3.5 m Astrophysical Research Consortium telescope at Apache Point Observatory. We measure a decrease in flux of 0.082% {+-} 0.015% during the passage of the planet behind the star. That planetary flux is equally well reproduced by atmospheric models with and without extra absorbers, and blackbody models with f {>=} 0.585 {+-} 0.080. It is therefore necessary to measure the planet at other wavelengths to further constrain its atmospheric properties. The eclipse appears centered at phase {phi} = 0.5100{sup +0.0072}{submore » -0.0061}, consistent with an orbital eccentricity of |ecos {omega}| = 0.016{sup +0.011}{sub -0.009} (see note at the end of Section 4). If the orbit of the planet is indeed eccentric, the large radius of WASP-12b can be explained by tidal heating.« less
  • We present Ks, H, and J-band photometry of the very highly irradiated hot Jupiter WASP-12b using the Wide-field Infrared Camera on the Canada-France-Hawaii telescope. Our photometry brackets the secondary eclipse of WASP-12b in the Ks and H bands, and in J band starts in mid-eclipse and continues until well after the end of the eclipse. We detect its thermal emission in all three near-infrared bands. Our secondary eclipse depths are 0.309{sup +0.013}{sub -0.012}% in Ks band (24{sigma}), 0.176{sup +0.016}{sub -0.021}% in H band (9{sigma}), and 0.131{sup +0.027}{sub -0.029}% in J band (4{sigma}). All three secondary eclipses are best fit withmore » a consistent phase, {phi}, that is compatible with a circular orbit: {phi} = 0.4998{sup +0.0008}{sub -0.0007}. The limits on the eccentricity, e, and argument of periastron, {omega}, of this planet from our photometry alone are thus |ecos {omega}| < 0.0040. By combining our secondary eclipse times with others published in the literature, as well as the radial-velocity and transit-timing data for this system, we show that there is no evidence that WASP-12b is precessing at a detectable rate and that its orbital eccentricity is likely zero. Our thermal-emission measurements also allow us to constrain the characteristics of the planet's atmosphere; our Ks-band eclipse depth argues strongly in favor of inefficient day to nightside redistribution of heat and a low Bond albedo for this very highly irradiated hot Jupiter. The J- and H-band brightness temperatures are slightly cooler than the Ks-band brightness temperature, and thus hint at the possibility of a modest temperature inversion deep in the atmosphere of WASP-12b; the high-pressure, deep atmospheric layers probed by our J- and H-band observations are likely more homogenized than the higher altitude layer probed by our Ks-band observations. Lastly, our best-fit Ks-band eclipse has a marginally longer duration than would otherwise be expected; this may be tentative evidence for material being tidally stripped from the planet-as was predicted for this system by Li and collaborators, and for which observational confirmation was recently arguably provided by Fossati and collaborators.« less
  • We report a new detection of the H-band thermal emission of CoRoT-1b and two confirmation detections of the Ks-band thermal emission of WASP-12b at secondary eclipses. The H-band measurement of CoRoT-1b shows an eclipse depth of 0.145% {+-} 0.049% with a 3{sigma} percentile between 0.033% and 0.235%. This depth is consistent with the previous conclusions that the planet has an isothermal region with inefficient heat transport from day side to night side, and has a dayside thermal inversion layer at high altitude. The two Ks-band detections of WASP-12b show a joint eclipse depth of 0.299% {+-} 0.065%. This result agreesmore » with the measurement of Croll and collaborators, providing independent confirmation of their measurement. The repeatability of the WASP-12b measurements also validates our data analysis method. Our measurements, in addition to a number of previous results made with other telescopes, demonstrate that ground-based observations are becoming widely available for characterization of atmospheres of hot Jupiters.« less