Thursday, January 19, 2017

Sodium Detected in the Atmosphere of hot Jupiter WASP-39b by Ground Based Telescope


Nikolov et al


We present transmission spectroscopy of the warm Saturn-mass exoplanet WASP-39b made with the Very Large Telescope (VLT) FOcal Reducer and Spectrograph (FORS2) across the wavelength range 411-810nm. The transit depth is measured with a typical precision of 240 parts per million (ppm) in wavelength bins of 10nm on a V = 12.1 magnitude star. We detect the sodium absorption feature (3.2-sigma) and find evidence for potassium. The ground-based transmission spectrum is consistent with Hubble Space Telescope (HST) optical spectroscopy, strengthening the interpretation of WASP-39b having a largely clear atmosphere. Our results demonstrate the great potential of the recently upgraded FORS2 spectrograph for optical transmission spectroscopy, obtaining HST-quality light curves from the ground.

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