Absorbing gas around the WASP-12 planetary system
Fossati et al
Near-UV observations of the planet host star WASP-12 uncovered the apparent absence of the normally conspicuous core emission of the Mg2 h&k resonance lines. This anomaly could be due either to (1) a lack of stellar activity, which would be unprecedented for a solar-like star of the imputed age of WASP-12; or (2) extrinsic absorption, from the intervening interstellar medium (ISM) or from material within the WASP-12 system itself, presumably ablated from the extreme hot Jupiter WASP-12b. HIRES archival spectra of the Ca2 H&K lines of WASP-12 show broad depressions in the line cores, deeper than those of other inactive and similarly distant stars and similar to WASP-12's Mg2 h&k line profiles. We took high resolution ESPADONS and FIES spectra of three early-type stars within 20' of WASP-12 and at similar distances, which show the ISM column is insufficient to produce the broad Ca2 depression observed in WASP-12. The EBHIS H1 column density map supports and strengthens this conclusion. Extrinsic absorption by material local to the WASP-12 system is therefore the most likely cause of the line core anomalies. Gas escaping from the heavily irradiated planet could form a stable and thick circumstellar disk/cloud. The anomalously low stellar activity index (logR'HK) of WASP-12 is evidently a direct consequence of the extra core absorption, so similar HK index deficiencies might signal the presence of translucent circumstellar gas around other stars hosting evaporating planets.