Monday, August 3, 2015

Can the James Webb Space Telescope Characterize the Atmospheres of SuperEarths?

Transiting Exoplanet Simulations with the James Webb Space Telescope


Batalha et al


In this white paper, we assess the potential for JWST to characterize the atmospheres of super-Earth exoplanets, by simulating a range of transiting spectra with different masses and temperatures. Our results are based on a JWST simulator tuned to the expected performance of the workhorse spectroscopic instrument NIRSpec, and is based on the latest exoplanet transit models by Howe & Burrows (2012). This study is especially timely since the observing modes for the science instruments on JWST are finalized (Clampin 2010) and because NASA has selected the TESS mission as an upcoming Explorer. TESS is expected to identify more than 1000 transiting exoplanet candidates, including a sample of about 100 nearby (less than 50 pc) superEarths (Ricker et al. 2010).

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