Analytic Scattering and Refraction Models for Exoplanet Transit Spectra

Tyler D. Robinson, Jonathan J. Fortney, William B. Hubbard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Scopus citations

Abstract

Observations of exoplanet transit spectra are essential to understanding the physics and chemistry of distant worlds. The effects of opacity sources and many physical processes combine to set the shape of a transit spectrum. Two such key processes - refraction and cloud and/or haze forward-scattering - have seen substantial recent study. However, models of these processes are typically complex, which prevents their incorporation into observational analyses and standard transit spectrum tools. In this work, we develop analytic expressions that allow for the efficient parameterization of forward-scattering and refraction effects in transit spectra. We derive an effective slant optical depth that includes a correction for forward-scattered light, and present an analytic form of this correction. We validate our correction against a full-physics transit spectrum model that includes scattering, and we explore the extent to which the omission of forward-scattering effects may bias models. Also, we verify a common analytic expression for the location of a refractive boundary, which we express in terms of the maximum pressure probed in a transit spectrum. This expression is designed to be easily incorporated into existing tools, and we discuss how the detection of a refractive boundary could help indicate the background atmospheric composition by constraining the bulk refractivity of the atmosphere. Finally, we show that opacity from Rayleigh scattering and collision-induced absorption will outweigh the effects of refraction for Jupiter-like atmospheres whose equilibrium temperatures are above 400-500 K.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number128
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Volume850
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017

Keywords

  • planets and satellites: atmospheres
  • radiative transfer
  • scattering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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