Journal Article

Probing the haze in the atmosphere of HD 189733b with <i>Hubble Space Telescope</i>/WFC3 transmission spectroscopy

N. P. Gibson, S. Aigrain, F. Pont, D. K. Sing, J.-M. Désert, T. M. Evans, G. Henry, N. Husnoo and H. Knutson

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 422, issue 1, pages 753-760
Published in print May 2012 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online April 2012 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
Probing the haze in the atmosphere of HD 189733b with Hubble Space Telescope/WFC3 transmission spectroscopy

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We present Hubble Space Telescope near-infrared transmission spectroscopy of the transiting exoplanet HD 189733b, using the Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3). This consists of time series spectra of two transits, used to measure the wavelength dependence of the planetary radius. These observations aim to test whether the Rayleigh scattering haze detected at optical wavelengths extends into the near-infrared, or if it becomes transparent leaving molecular features to dominate the transmission spectrum. Due to saturation and non-linearity affecting the brightest (central) pixels of the spectrum, light curves were extracted from the blue and red ends of the spectra only, corresponding to wavelength ranges of 1.099–1.168 and 1.521–1.693 μm, respectively, for the first visit, and 1.082–1.128 and 1.514–1.671 μm for the second. The light curves were fitted using a Gaussian process model to account for instrumental systematics whilst simultaneously fitting for the transit parameters. This gives values of the planet-to-star radius ratio for the blue and red light curves of 0.156 50 ± 0.000 48 and 0.156 34 ± 0.000 32, respectively, for visit 1 and 0.157 16 ± 0.000 78 and 0.156 30 ± 0.000 37 for visit 2 (using a quadratic limb-darkening law). The planet-to-star radius ratios measured in both visits are consistent, and we see no evidence for the drop in absorption expected if the haze that is observed in the optical becomes transparent in the infrared. This tentatively suggests that the haze dominates the transmission spectrum of HD 189733b into near-infrared wavelengths, although more robust observations are required to provide conclusive evidence.

Keywords: methods: data analysis; techniques: spectroscopic; stars: individual: HD 189733; planetary systems

Journal Article.  5732 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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