Thursday, February 16, 2017

Refined architecture of the WASP-8 system: a cautionary tale for traditional Rossiter-McLaughlin analysis


Bourrier et al


Probing the trajectory of a transiting planet across the disk of its star through the analysis of its Rossiter-McLaughlin effect can be used to measure the differential rotation of the host star and the true obliquity of the system. Highly misaligned systems could be particularly conducive to these mesurements, which is why we reanalysed the HARPS transit spectra of WASP-8b using the 'Rossiter-McLaughlin effect reloaded' (reloaded RM) technique. This approach allows us to isolate the local stellar CCF emitted by the planet-occulted regions. As a result we identified a ∼35% variation in the local CCF contrast along the transit chord, which might trace a deepening of the stellar lines from the equator to the poles. Whatever its origin, such an effect cannot be detected when analyzing the RV centroids of the disk-integrated CCFs through a traditional velocimetric analysis of the RM effect. Consequently it injected a significant bias into the results obtained by Queloz et al. (2010) for the projected rotational velocity veqsini⋆ (1.59−0.09+0.08 km/s) and the sky-projected obliquity λ (-123.0−4.4+3.4∘). Using our technique, we measured these values to be veqsini⋆ = 1.90±0.05 km/s and λ = -143.0−1.5+1.6∘. We found no compelling evidence for differential rotation of the star, although there are hints that WASP-8 is pointing away from us with the stellar poles rotating about 25% slower than the equator. Measurements at higher accuracy during ingress/egress will be required to confirm this result. In contrast to the traditional analysis of the RM effect, the reloaded RM technique directly extracts the local stellar CCFs, allowing us to analyze their shape and to measure their RV centroids, unbiased by variations in their contrast or FWHM.

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