skip to main content
OSTI.GOV title logo U.S. Department of Energy
Office of Scientific and Technical Information

Title: Toward Detection of Exoplanetary Rings via Transit Photometry: Methodology and a Possible Candidate

Abstract

The detection of a planetary ring of exoplanets remains one of the most attractive, but challenging, goals in the field of exoplanetary science. We present a methodology that implements a systematic search for exoplanetary rings via transit photometry of long-period planets. This methodology relies on a precise integration scheme that we develop to compute a transit light curve of a ringed planet. We apply the methodology to 89 long-period planet candidates from the Kepler data so as to estimate, and/or set upper limits on, the parameters of possible rings. While the majority of our samples do not have sufficient signal-to-noise ratios (S/Ns) to place meaningful constraints on ring parameters, we find that six systems with higher S/Ns are inconsistent with the presence of a ring larger than 1.5 times the planetary radius, assuming a grazing orbit and a tilted ring. Furthermore, we identify five preliminary candidate systems whose light curves exhibit ring-like features. After removing four false positives due to the contamination from nearby stars, we identify KIC 10403228 as a reasonable candidate for a ringed planet. A systematic parameter fit of its light curve with a ringed planet model indicates two possible solutions corresponding to a Saturn-like planet with a tilted ring. There alsomore » remain two other possible scenarios accounting for the data; a circumstellar disk and a hierarchical triple. Due to large uncertain factors, we cannot choose one specific model among the three.« less

Authors:
; ;  [1];  [2];  [3]
  1. Department of Physics, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo, 113-0033 (Japan)
  2. Department of Physics, Tokyo Metropolitan University, Tokyo 192-4397 (Japan)
  3. Department of Earth and Planetary Science, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo 113-0033 (Japan)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22663718
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Astronomical Journal (Online); Journal Volume: 153; Journal Issue: 4; Other Information: Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
79 ASTROPHYSICS, COSMOLOGY AND ASTRONOMY; ACCOUNTING; ASTRONOMY; DATA ANALYSIS; DETECTION; DIAGRAMS; LIMITING VALUES; NOISE; ORBITS; PHOTOMETRY; SATELLITES; SATURN PLANET; SIGNALS; SIGNAL-TO-NOISE RATIO; STARS; VISIBLE RADIATION

Citation Formats

Aizawa, Masataka, Masuda, Kento, Suto, Yasushi, Uehara, Sho, and Kawahara, Hajime, E-mail: aizawa@utap.phys.s.u-tokyo.ac.jp. Toward Detection of Exoplanetary Rings via Transit Photometry: Methodology and a Possible Candidate. United States: N. p., 2017. Web. doi:10.3847/1538-3881/AA6336.
Aizawa, Masataka, Masuda, Kento, Suto, Yasushi, Uehara, Sho, & Kawahara, Hajime, E-mail: aizawa@utap.phys.s.u-tokyo.ac.jp. Toward Detection of Exoplanetary Rings via Transit Photometry: Methodology and a Possible Candidate. United States. doi:10.3847/1538-3881/AA6336.
Aizawa, Masataka, Masuda, Kento, Suto, Yasushi, Uehara, Sho, and Kawahara, Hajime, E-mail: aizawa@utap.phys.s.u-tokyo.ac.jp. Sat . "Toward Detection of Exoplanetary Rings via Transit Photometry: Methodology and a Possible Candidate". United States. doi:10.3847/1538-3881/AA6336.
@article{osti_22663718,
title = {Toward Detection of Exoplanetary Rings via Transit Photometry: Methodology and a Possible Candidate},
author = {Aizawa, Masataka and Masuda, Kento and Suto, Yasushi and Uehara, Sho and Kawahara, Hajime, E-mail: aizawa@utap.phys.s.u-tokyo.ac.jp},
abstractNote = {The detection of a planetary ring of exoplanets remains one of the most attractive, but challenging, goals in the field of exoplanetary science. We present a methodology that implements a systematic search for exoplanetary rings via transit photometry of long-period planets. This methodology relies on a precise integration scheme that we develop to compute a transit light curve of a ringed planet. We apply the methodology to 89 long-period planet candidates from the Kepler data so as to estimate, and/or set upper limits on, the parameters of possible rings. While the majority of our samples do not have sufficient signal-to-noise ratios (S/Ns) to place meaningful constraints on ring parameters, we find that six systems with higher S/Ns are inconsistent with the presence of a ring larger than 1.5 times the planetary radius, assuming a grazing orbit and a tilted ring. Furthermore, we identify five preliminary candidate systems whose light curves exhibit ring-like features. After removing four false positives due to the contamination from nearby stars, we identify KIC 10403228 as a reasonable candidate for a ringed planet. A systematic parameter fit of its light curve with a ringed planet model indicates two possible solutions corresponding to a Saturn-like planet with a tilted ring. There also remain two other possible scenarios accounting for the data; a circumstellar disk and a hierarchical triple. Due to large uncertain factors, we cannot choose one specific model among the three.},
doi = {10.3847/1538-3881/AA6336},
journal = {Astronomical Journal (Online)},
number = 4,
volume = 153,
place = {United States},
year = {Sat Apr 01 00:00:00 EDT 2017},
month = {Sat Apr 01 00:00:00 EDT 2017}
}
  • We perform numerical calculations of the expected transit timing variations (TTVs) induced on a hot-Jupiter by an Earth-mass perturber. Motivated by the recent discoveries of retrograde transiting planets, we concentrate on an investigation of the effect of varying relative planetary inclinations, up to and including completely retrograde systems. We find that planets in low-order (e.g., 2:1) mean-motion resonances (MMRs) retain approximately constant TTV amplitudes for 0 deg. < i < 170 deg., only reducing in amplitude for i>170 deg. Systems in higher order MMRs (e.g., 5:1) increase in TTV amplitude as inclinations increase toward 45 deg., becoming approximately constant formore » 45 deg. < i < 135 deg., and then declining for i>135 deg. Planets away from resonance slowly decrease in TTV amplitude as inclinations increase from 0 deg. to 180 deg., whereas planets adjacent to resonances can exhibit a huge range of variability in TTV amplitude as a function of both eccentricity and inclination. For highly retrograde systems (135 deg. < i {<=} 180 deg.), TTV signals will be undetectable across almost the entirety of parameter space, with the exceptions occurring when the perturber has high eccentricity or is very close to an MMR. This high inclination decrease in TTV amplitude (on and away from resonance) is important for the analysis of the known retrograde and multi-planet transiting systems, as inclination effects need to be considered if TTVs are to be used to exclude the presence of any putative planetary companions: absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.« less
  • Knowledge of an exoplanet's oblateness and obliquity would give clues about its formation and internal structure. In principle, a light curve of a transiting planet bears information about the planet's shape, but previous work has shown that the oblateness-induced signal will be extremely difficult to detect. Here, we investigate the potentially larger signals due to planetary spin precession. The most readily detectable effects are transit depth variations (T{delta}V's) in a sequence of light curves. For a planet as oblate as Jupiter or Saturn, the transit depth will undergo fractional variations of order 1%. The most promising systems are those withmore » orbital periods of approximately 15-30 days, which are short enough for the precession period to be less than about 40 yr and long enough to avoid spin-down due to tidal friction. The detectability of the T{delta}V signal would be enhanced by moons (which would decrease the precession period) or planetary rings (which would increase the amplitude). The Kepler mission should find several planets for which precession-induced T{delta}V signals will be detectable. Due to modeling degeneracies, Kepler photometry would yield only a lower bound on oblateness. The degeneracy could be lifted by observing the oblateness-induced asymmetry in at least one transit light curve or by making assumptions about the planetary interior.« less
  • It has been shown that spectroscopy of transiting extrasolar planets can potentially provide a wealth of information about their atmospheres. Herein, we set up the inverse problem in spectroscopic retrieval. We use nonlinear optimal estimation to retrieve the atmospheric state (pioneered for Earth sounding by Rodgers). The formulation quantifies the degrees of freedom and information content of the spectrum with respect to geophysical parameters; herein, we focus specifically on temperature and composition. First, we apply the technique to synthetic near-infrared spectra and explore the influence of spectral signal-to-noise ratio and resolution (the two important parameters when designing a future instrument)more » on the information content of the data. As expected, we find that the number of retrievable parameters increases with increasing signal-to-noise ratio and resolution, although the gains quickly level off for large values. Second, we apply the methods to the previously studied dayside near-infrared emission spectrum of HD 189733b and compare the results of our retrieval with those obtained by others.« less
  • It has been posited that lunar eclipse observations may help predict the in-transit signature of Earth-like extrasolar planets. However, a comparative analysis of the two phenomena addressing in detail the transport of stellar light through the planet's atmosphere has not yet been presented. Here, we proceed with the investigation of both phenomena by making use of a common formulation. Our starting point is a set of previously unpublished near-infrared spectra collected at various phases during the 2008 August lunar eclipse. We then take the formulation to the limit of an infinitely distant observer in order to investigate the in-transit signaturemore » of the Earth-Sun system as being observed from outside our solar system. The refraction bending of sunlight rays that pass through Earth's atmosphere is a critical factor in the illumination of the eclipsed Moon. Likewise, refraction will have an impact on the in-transit transmission spectrum for specific planet-star systems depending on the refractive properties of the planet's atmosphere, the stellar size, and the planet's orbital distance. For the Earth-Sun system, at mid-transit, refraction prevents the remote observer's access to the lower {approx}12-14 km of the atmosphere and, thus, also to the bulk of the spectroscopically active atmospheric gases. We demonstrate that the effective optical radius of the Earth in-transit is modulated by refraction and varies by {approx}12 km from mid-transit to internal contact. The refractive nature of atmospheres, a property which is rarely accounted for in published investigations, will pose additional challenges to the characterization of Earth-like extrasolar planets. Refraction may have a lesser impact for Earth-like extrasolar planets within the habitable zone of some M-type stars.« less
  • Spitzer observations reveal the presence of warm debris from a tidally destroyed rocky and possibly icy planetary body orbiting the white dwarf GD 61. Ultraviolet and optical spectroscopy of the metal-contaminated stellar photosphere reveal traces of hydrogen, oxygen, magnesium, silicon, iron, and calcium. The nominal ratios of these elements indicate an excess of oxygen relative to that expected from rock-forming metal oxides, and thus it is possible that water was accreted together with the terrestrial-like debris. Iron is found to be deficient relative to magnesium and silicon, suggesting the material may have originated as the outer layers of a differentiatedmore » parent body, as is widely accepted for the Moon.« less