Thursday, June 9, 2016

Hot Jupiter WASP-98b has Some Anomalies in its Atmosphere

An optical transmission spectrum of the transiting hot Jupiter in the metal-poor WASP-98 planetary system


Mancini et al


The WASP-98 planetary system represents a rare case of a hot Jupiter hosted by a metal-poor main-sequence star. We present a follow-up study of this system based on multi-band photometry and high-resolution spectroscopy. Two new transit events of WASP-98b were simultaneously observed in four passbands (g,r,i,z), using the telescope-defocussing technique, yielding eight high-precision light curves with point-to-point scatters of less than 1 mmag. We also collected three spectra of the parent star with a high-resolution spectrograph, which we used to remeasure its spectral characteristics, in particular its metallicity. We found this to be very low, Fe/H]=-0.49, but larger than was previously reported, [Fe/H]=-0.60. We used these new photometric and spectroscopic data to refine the orbital and physical properties of this planetary system, finding that the stellar and planetary mass measurements are significantly larger than those in the discovery paper. In addition, the multi-band light curves were used to construct an optical transmission spectrum of WASP-98b and probe the characteristics of its atmosphere at the terminator. We measured a lower radius at z compared with the other three passbands. The maximum variation is between the r and z bands, has a confidence level of roughly 6 sigma and equates to 5.5 pressure scale heights. We compared this spectrum to theoretical models, investigating several possible types of atmospheres, including hazy, cloudy, cloud-free, and clear atmospheres with titanium and vanadium oxide opacities. We could not find a good fit to the observations, except in the extreme case of a clear atmosphere with TiO and VO opacities, in which the condensation of Ti and V was suppressed. As this case is unrealistic, our results suggest the presence of an additional optical-absorbing species in the atmosphere of WASP-98b, of unknown chemical nature.

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