Hubble Space Telescope observations of the NUV transit of WASP-12b
Nichols et al
We present new observations of four closely-spaced NUV transits of the hot Jupiter-like exoplanet WASP-12b using HST/COS, significantly increasing the phase resolution of the observed NUV light curve relative to previous observations, while minimising the temporal variation of the system. We observe significant excess NUV absorption during the transit, with mean normalised in-transit fluxes of Fnorm≃0.97, i.e. ≃2-5 σ deeper than the optical transit level of ≃0.986 for a uniform stellar disk (the exact confidence level depending on the normalisation method used). We further observe an asymmetric transit shape, such that the post-conjunction fluxes are overall ≃2-3 σ higher than pre-conjunction values, and characterised by rapid variations in count rate between the pre-conjunction and out of transit levels. We do not find evidence for an early ingress to the NUV transit as suggested by earlier HST observations. However, we show that the NUV count rate observed prior to the optical transit is highly variable, but overall ≃2.2-3.0 σ below the post-transit values and comparable in depth to the optical transit, possibly forming a variable region of NUV absorption from at least phase ϕ≃0.83, limited by the data coverage.