NO THERMAL INVERSION and A SOLAR WATER ABUNDANCE for the HOT JUPITER HD 209458B from HST/WFC3 SPECTROSCOPY

Michael R. Line, Kevin B. Stevenson, Jacob Bean, Jean Michel Desert, Jonathan J. Fortney, Laura Kreidberg, Nikku Madhusudhan, Adam P. Showman, Hannah Diamond-Lowe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

75 Scopus citations

Abstract

The nature of the thermal structure of hot Jupiter atmospheres is one of the key questions raised by the characterization of transiting exoplanets over the past decade. There have been claims that many hot Jupiters exhibit atmospheric thermal inversions. However, these claims have been based on broadband photometry rather than the unambiguous identification of emission features with spectroscopy, and the chemical species that could cause the thermal inversions by absorbing stellar irradiation at high altitudes have not been identified despite extensive theoretical and observational effort. Here we present high-precision Hubble Space Telescope WFC3 observations of the dayside thermal emission spectrum of the hot Jupiter HD 209458b, which was the first exoplanet suggested to have a thermal inversion. In contrast to previous results for this planet, our observations detect water in absorption at 6.2σ confidence. When combined with Spitzer photometry, the data are indicative of a monotonically decreasing temperature with pressure over the range of 1-0.001 bars at 7.7σ confidence. We test the robustness of our results by exploring a variety of model assumptions, including the temperature profile parameterization, presence of a cloud, and choice of Spitzer data reduction. We also introduce a new analysis method to determine the elemental abundances from the spectrally retrieved mixing ratios with thermochemical self-consistency and find plausible abundances consistent with solar metallicity (0.06-10 solar) and carbon-to-oxygen ratios less than unity. This work suggests that high-precision spectrophotometric results are required to robustly infer thermal structures and compositions of extrasolar planet atmospheres and to perform comparative exoplanetology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number203
JournalAstronomical Journal
Volume152
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2016

Keywords

  • methods: statistical
  • planets and satellites: atmospheres
  • planets and satellites: composition
  • planets and satellites: gaseous planets
  • planets and satellites: individual (HD 209458b)
  • techniques: spectroscopic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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    Line, M. R., Stevenson, K. B., Bean, J., Desert, J. M., Fortney, J. J., Kreidberg, L., Madhusudhan, N., Showman, A. P., & Diamond-Lowe, H. (2016). NO THERMAL INVERSION and A SOLAR WATER ABUNDANCE for the HOT JUPITER HD 209458B from HST/WFC3 SPECTROSCOPY. Astronomical Journal, 152(6), [203]. https://doi.org/10.3847/0004-6256/152/6/203