Several processes can cause the shape of an extrasolar giant planet's shadow, as viewed in transit, to depart from circular. In addition to rotational effects, cloud formation, non-homogenous haze production and movement, and dynamical effects (winds) could also be important. When such a planet transits its host star as seen from the Earth, the asphericity will introduce a deviation in the transit light curve relative to the transit of a perfectly spherical (or perfectly oblate) planet. We develop a theoretical framework to interpret planetary shapes. We then generate predictions for transiting planet shapes based on a published theoretical dynamical model of HD189733b. Using these shape models we show that planet shapes are unlikely to introduce detectable light-curve deviations (those >1 × 10-5 of the host star), but that the shapes may lead to astrophysical sources of systematic error when measuring planetary oblateness, transit time, and impact parameter.
- Planets and satellites: Individual (HD189733b, HD209458b)
- Techniques: Photometric
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science