Posts Tagged atmospheric species

Recent Postings from atmospheric species

Exploring atmospheres of hot mini-Neptunes and extrasolar giant planets orbiting different stars with application to HD 97658b, WASP-12b, CoRoT-2b, XO-1b and HD 189733b

We calculated an atmospheric grid for hot mini-Neptune and giant exoplanets, that links astrophysical observable parameters- orbital distance and stellar type- with the chemical atmospheric species expected. The grid can be applied to current and future observations to characterize exoplanet atmospheres and serves as a reference to interpret atmospheric retrieval analysis results. To build the grid, we developed a 1D code for calculating the atmospheric thermal structure and link it to a photochemical model that includes disequilibrium chemistry (molecular diffusion, vertical mixing and photochemistry). We compare thermal profiles and composition of planets at different semimajor axis (0.01$\leq$a$\leq$0.1AU) orbiting F, G, K and M stars. Temperature and UV flux affect chemical species in the atmosphere. We explore which effects are due to temperature and which due to stellar characteristics, showing the species most affected in each case. CH$_4$ and H$_2$O are the most sensitive to UV flux, H displaces H$_2$ as the most abundant gas in the upper atmosphere for planets receiving a high UV flux. CH$_4$ is more abundant for cooler planets. We explore vertical mixing, to inform degeneracies on our models and in the resulting spectral observables. For lower pressures observable species like H$_2$O or CO$_2$ can indicate the efficiency of vertical mixing, with larger mixing ratios for a stronger mixing. By establishing the grid, testing the sensitivity of the results and comparing our model to published results, our paper provides a tool to estimate what observations could yield. We apply our model to WASP-12b, CoRoT-2b, XO-1b, HD189733b and HD97658b.

Exploring atmospheres of hot mini-Neptunes and extrasolar giant planets orbiting different stars with application to HD 97658b, WASP-12b, CoRoT-2b, XO-1b and HD 189733b [Replacement]

We calculated an atmospheric grid for hot mini-Neptune and giant exoplanets, that links astrophysical observable parameters- orbital distance and stellar type- with the chemical atmospheric species expected. The grid can be applied to current and future observations to characterize exoplanet atmospheres and serves as a reference to interpret atmospheric retrieval analysis results. To build the grid, we developed a 1D code for calculating the atmospheric thermal structure and link it to a photochemical model that includes disequilibrium chemistry (molecular diffusion, vertical mixing and photochemistry). We compare thermal profiles and atmospheric composition of planets at different semimajor axis (0.01$\leq$a$\leq$0.1AU) orbiting F, G, K and M stars. Temperature and UV flux affect chemical species in the atmosphere. We explore which effects are due to temperature and which due to stellar characteristics, showing the species most affected in each case. CH$_4$ and H$_2$O are the most sensitive to UV flux, H displaces H$_2$ as the most abundant gas in the upper atmosphere for planets receiving a high UV flux. CH$_4$ is more abundant for cooler planets. We explore vertical mixing, to inform degeneracies on our models and in the resulting spectral observables. For lower pressures observable species like H$_2$O or CO$_2$ can indicate the efficiency of vertical mixing, with larger mixing ratios for a stronger mixing. By establishing the grid, testing the sensitivity of the results and comparing our model to published results, our paper provides a tool to estimate what observations could yield. We apply our model to WASP-12b, CoRoT-2b, XO-1b, HD189733b and HD97658b.

Transmission spectrum of Earth as a transiting exoplanet - from the ultraviolet to the near-infrared [Replacement]

Transmission spectroscopy of exoplanets is a tool to characterize rocky planets and explore their habitability. Using the Earth itself as a proxy, we model the atmospheric cross section as a function of wavelength, and show the effect of each atmospheric species, Rayleigh scattering and refraction from 115 to 1000nm. Clouds do not significantly affect this picture because refraction prevents the lowest 12.75km of the atmosphere, in a transiting geometry for an Earth-Sun analog, to be sampled by a distant observer. We calculate the effective planetary radius for the primary eclipse spectrum of an Earth-like exoplanet around a Sun-like star. Below 200nm, ultraviolet(UV) O_2 absorption increases the effective planetary radius by about 180km, versus 27km at 760.3nm, and 14km in the near-infrared (NIR) due predominantly to refraction. This translates into a 2.6% change in effective planetary radius over the UV-NIR wavelength range, showing that the ultraviolet is an interesting wavelength range for future space missions.

Transmission spectrum of Earth as a transiting exoplanet - from the ultraviolet to the near-infrared

Transmission spectroscopy of exoplanets is a tool to characterize rocky planets and explore their habitability. Using the Earth itself as a proxy, we model the atmospheric cross section as a function of wavelength, and show the effect of each atmospheric species, Rayleigh scattering and refraction from 115 to 1000nm. Clouds do not significantly affect this picture because refraction prevents the lowest 12.75km of the atmosphere, in a transiting geometry for an Earth-Sun analog, to be sampled by a distant observer. We calculate the effective planetary radius for the primary eclipse spectrum of an Earth-like exoplanet around a Sun-like star. Below 200nm, ultraviolet(UV) O_2 absorption increases the effective planetary radius by about 180km, versus 27km at 760.3nm, and 14km in the near-infrared (NIR) due predominantly to refraction. This translates into a 2.6% change in effective planetary radius over the UV-NIR wavelength range, showing that the ultraviolet is an interesting wavelength range for future space missions.

Theoretical Spectra of Terrestrial Exoplanet Surfaces

We investigate spectra of airless rocky exoplanets with a theoretical framework that self-consistently treats reflection and thermal emission. We find that a silicate surface on an exoplanet is spectroscopically detectable via prominent Si-O features in the thermal emission bands of 7 – 13 \mu m and 15 – 25 \mu m. The variation of brightness temperature due to the silicate features can be up to 20 K for an airless Earth analog, and the silicate features are wide enough to be distinguished from atmospheric features with relatively high-resolution spectra. The surface characterization thus provides a method to unambiguously identify a rocky exoplanet. Furthermore, identification of specific rocky surface types is possible with the planet’s reflectance spectrum in near-infrared broad bands. A key parameter to observe is the difference between K band and J band geometric albedos (A_g (K)-A_g (J)): A_g (K)-A_g (J) > 0.2 indicates that more than half of the planet’s surface has abundant mafic minerals, such as olivine and pyroxene, in other words primary crust from a magma ocean or high-temperature lavas; A_g (K)-A_g (J) < -0.09 indicates that more than half of the planet's surface is covered or partially covered by water ice or hydrated silicates, implying extant or past water on its surface. Also, surface water ice can be specifically distinguished by an H-band geometric albedo lower than the J-band geometric albedo. The surface features can be distinguished from possible atmospheric features with molecule identification of atmospheric species by transmission spectroscopy. We therefore propose that mid-infrared spectroscopy of exoplanets may detect rocky surfaces, and near-infrared spectrophotometry may identify ultramafic surfaces, hydrated surfaces and water ice.

Transits of Earth-Like Planets

Transmission spectroscopy of Earth-like exoplanets is a potential tool for habitability screening. Transiting planets are present-day "Rosetta Stones" for understanding extrasolar planets because they offer the possibility to characterize giant planet atmospheres and should provide an access to biomarkers in the atmospheres of Earth-like exoplanets, once they are detected. Using the Earth itself as a proxy we show the potential and limits of the transiting technique to detect biomarkers on an Earth-analog exoplanet in transit. We quantify the Earths cross section as a function of wavelength, and show the effect of each atmospheric species, aerosol, and Rayleigh scattering. Clouds do not significantly affect this picture because the opacity of the lower atmosphere from aerosol and Rayleigh losses dominates over cloud losses. We calculate the optimum signal-to-noise ratio for spectral features in the primary eclipse spectrum of an Earth-like exoplanet around a Sun-like star and also M stars, for a 6.5-m telescope in space. We find that the signal to noise values for all important spectral features are on the order of unity or less per transit – except for the closest stars – making it difficult to detect such features in one single transit, and implying that co-adding of many transits will be essential.

Biomarkers set in context

In a famous paper, Sagan et al.(1993) analyzed a spectrum of the Earth taken by the Galileo probe, searching for signatures of life. They concluded that the large amount of O2 and the simultaneous presence of CH4 traces are strongly suggestive of biology. The detection of a widespread red-absorbing pigment with no likely mineral origin supports the hypothesis of biophotosynthesis. The search for signs of life on possibly very different planets implies that we need to gather as much information as possible in order to understand how the observed atmosphere physically and chemically works. The Earth-Sun intensity ratio is about 10^{-7} in the thermal infrared (10 micrometer), and about 10^{-10} in the visible (0.5 micrometer). The interferometric systems suggested for Darwin and the Terrestrial Planet Finder Interferometer (TPF-I) mission operates in the mid-IR (5 – 20 micrometer), the coronagraph suggested for Terrestrial Planet Finder Coronagraph (TPF-C) in the visible (0.5 – 1 micrometer). For the former it is thus the thermal emission emanating from the planet that is detected and analyzed while for the later the reflected stellar flux is measured. The spectrum of the planet can contain signatures of atmospheric species that are important for habitability, like CO2 and H2O, or result from biological activity (O2, O3, CH4, and N2O). Both spectral regions contain atmospheric bio-indicators. The presence or absence of these spectral features will indicate similarities or differences with the atmospheres of terrestrial planets and are discussed in detail and set into context with the physical characteristics of a planet in this chapter.

 

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