Scientific Publications

As part of our engagement and scientific efforts, we're presenting some of the key results from the Exoplanet Science Initiative below.

Papers Published in 2018

  • 2018 - The hidden depths of planetary atmospheres
    Bétrémieux, Yan; Swain, Mark R.

    Atmospheric regions below a refractive boundary are hidden in limb observations. Refraction thus creates a gray continuum in the planet's transmission spectrum which can hide spectral features associated with sources of atmospheric opacity. We combine refractive theory with recent analytical advances describing the effects of surfaces and clouds on transmission spectra, to express the location of this boundary in atmospheric opacity space, both for atomic and molecular extinction, as well as collision-induced absorption. This allows one to quickly estimate how refraction affects spectral features in well-mixed atmospheres. We show that differences in the geometry of limb observations between solar system planets and exoplanets leads to different locations of this boundary, and that more than four extra scale heights of atmosphere are hidden in exoplanet transits compared to solar system observations of cold gas giants. We explore how the location of this refractive boundary in exoplanet transits changes in a well-mixed isothermal atmosphere with its temperature and composition, the spectral type of the planet's host star, and the size of the planet. We demonstrate that five extra scale heights of atmosphere are hidden in a terrestrial planet with a CO2 atmosphere compared to a helium atmosphere, resulting in a flatter spectrum than from its smaller scale height alone. We provide results for a few exoplanets, notably those in the TRAPPIST-1 system, to help the scientific community estimate the impact of refraction on the size of spectral features without radiative transfer calculations, and thus help refine planned James Web Space Telescope observations.

  • 2018 - Deep exploration of ε Eridani with Keck Ms-band vortex coronagraphy and radial velocities: mass and orbital parameters of the giant exoplanet
    Dimitri Mawet, Lea Hirsch, Eve J. Lee, Jean-Baptiste Ruffio, Michael Bottom, Benjamin J. Fulton, Olivier Absil, Charles Beichman, Brendan Bowler, Marta Bryan, Elodie Choquet, David Ciardi, Valentin Christiaens, Denis Defrère, Carlos Alberto Gomez Gonzalez, Andrew W. Howard, Elsa Huby, Howard Isaacson, Rebecca Jensen-Clem, Molly Kosiarek, Geoff Marcy, Tiffany Meshkat, Erik Petigura, Maddalena Reggiani, Garreth Ruane, Eugene Serabyn, Evan Sinukoff, Ji Wang, Lauren Weiss, Marie Ygouf

    We present the most sensitive direct imaging and radial velocity (RV) exploration of ε Eridani to date. εEridani is an adolescent planetary system, reminiscent of the early Solar system. It is surrounded by a prominent and complex debris disk which is likely stirred by one or several gas giant exoplanets. The discovery of the RV signature of a giant exoplanet was announced 15 years ago, but has met with scrutiny due to possible confusion with stellar noise. We confirm the planet with a new compilation and analysis of precise RV data spanning 30 years, and combine it with upper limits from our direct imaging search, the most sensitive ever performed. The deep images were taken in the Ms band (4.7μm) with the vortex coronagraph recently installed in W.M. Keck Observatory's infrared camera NIRC2, which opens a sensitive window for planet searches around nearby adolescent systems. The RV data and direct imaging upper limit maps were combined in an innovative joint Bayesian analysis, providing new constraints on the mass and orbital parameters of the elusive planet. ε Eridani b has a mass of 0.78+0.38−0.12 MJup and is orbiting ε Eridani at about 3.48±0.02 AU with a period of 7.37±0.07 years. The eccentricity of ε Eridani b's orbit is 0.07+0.06−0.05, an order of magnitude smaller than early estimates and consistent with a circular orbit. We discuss our findings from the standpoint of planet-disk interactions and prospects for future detection and characterization with the James Webb Space Telescope.

  • 2018 - A Bayesian Framework for Exoplanet Direct Detection and Non-Detection
    Jean-Baptiste Ruffio, Dimitri Mawet, Ian Czekala, Bruce Macintosh, Robert J. De Rosa, Garreth Ruane, Michael Bottom, Laurent Pueyo, Jason J. Wang, Lea Hirsch, Zhaohuan Zhu, Eric L. Nielsen

    Rigorously quantifying the information in high contrast imaging data is important for informing follow-up strategies to confirm the substellar nature of a point source, constraining theoretical models of planet-disk interactions, and deriving planet occurrence rates. However, within the exoplanet direct imaging community, non-detections have almost exclusively been defined using a frequentist detection threshold (i.e. contrast curve) and associated completeness. This can lead to conceptual inconsistencies when included in a Bayesian framework. A Bayesian upper limit is such that the true value of a parameter lies below this limit with a certain probability. The associated probability is the integral of the posterior distribution with the upper limit as the upper bound. In summary, a frequentist upper limit is a statement about the detectability of planets while a Bayesian upper limit is a statement about the probability of a parameter to lie in an interval given the data. The latter is therefore better suited for rejecting hypotheses or theoretical models based on their predictions. In this work we emphasize that Bayesian statistics and upper limits are more easily interpreted and typically more constraining than the frequentist approach. We illustrate the use of Bayesian analysis in two different cases: 1) with a known planet location where we also propose to use model comparison to constrain the astrophysical nature of the point source and 2) gap-carving planets in TW Hya. To finish, we also mention the problem of combining radial velocity and direct imaging observations.

  • 2018 - Discovery of Delta Scuti Pulsations in the Young Hybrid Debris Disk Star HD 156623
    Samuel N. Mellon, Eric E. Mamajek, Konstanze Zwintz, Trevor J. David, Remko Stuik, Geert Jan J. Talens, Patrick Dorval, Olivier Burggraaf, Matthew A. Kenworthy, John I. Bailey III, Blaine B.D. Lomberg, Rudi B. Kuhn, Michael J. Ireland, Steven M. Crawford

    The bRing robotic observatory network was built to search for circumplanetary material within the transiting Hill sphere of the exoplanet β Pic b across its bright host star β Pic. During the bRing survey of β Pic, it simultaneously monitored the brightnesses of thousands of bright stars in the southern sky (V ≃ 4-8, δ ≲ -30∘). In this work, we announce the discovery of δ Scuti pulsations in the A-type star HD 156623 using bRing data. HD 156623 is notable as it is a well-studied young star with a dusty and gas-rich debris disk, previously detected using ALMA. We present the observational results on the pulsation periods and amplitudes for HD 156623, discuss its evolutionary status, and provide further constraints on its nature and age. We find strong evidence of frequency regularity and grouping. We do not find evidence of frequency, amplitude, or phase modulation for any of the frequencies over the course of the observations. We show that HD 156623 is consistent with other hot and high frequency pre-MS and early ZAMS δ Scutis as predicted by theoretical models and corresponding evolutionary tracks, although we observe that HD 156623 lies hotter than the theoretical blue edge of the classical instability strip. This, coupled with our characterization and Sco-Cen membership analyses, suggest that the star is most likely an outlying ZAMS member of the ∼16 Myr Upper Centaurus-Lupus subgroup of the Sco-Cen association.

  • 2018 - Discovery of a Transiting Adolescent Sub-Neptune Exoplanet with K2
    David, Trevor J.; Mamajek, Eric E.; Vanderburg, Andrew; Schlieder, Joshua E.; Bristow, Makennah; Petigura, Erik A.; Ciardi, David R.; Crossfield, Ian J. M.; Isaacson, Howard T.; Cody, Ann Marie; Stauffer, John R.; Hillenbrand, Lynne A.; Bieryla, Allyson; Latham, David W.; Fulton, Benjamin J.; Rebull, Luisa M.; Beichman, Chas; Gonzales, Erica J.; Hirsch, Lea A.; Howard, Andrew W.; Vasisht, Gautam; Ygouf, Marie

    The role of stellar age in the measured properties and occurrence rates of exoplanets is not well understood. This is in part due to a paucity of known young planets and the uncertainties in age-dating for most exoplanet host stars. Exoplanets with well-constrained ages, particularly those which are young, are useful as benchmarks for studies aiming to constrain the evolutionary timescales relevant for planets. Such timescales may concern orbital migration, gravitational contraction, or atmospheric photo-evaporation, among other mechanisms. Here we report the discovery of an adolescent transiting sub-Neptune from K2 photometry of the low-mass star K2-284. From multiple age indicators we estimate the age of the star to be 120 Myr, with a 68% confidence interval of 100-760 Myr. The size of K2-284 b (RP = 2.8 ± 0.1 R⊕) combined with its youth make it an intriguing case study for photo-evaporation models, which predict enhanced atmospheric mass loss during early evolutionary stages.

  • 2018 - A gap in HD 92945’s broad planetesimal disc revealed by ALMA
    Marino, S.; Yelverton, B.; Booth, M.; Faramaz, V.; Kennedy, G. M.; Matra, L.; Wyatt, M. C.

    In the last few years multiwavelength observations have revealed the ubiquity of gaps/rings in circumstellar discs. Here we report the first ALMA observations of HD 92945 at 0.86 mm, that reveal a gap at about 73 +/- 3 au within a broad disc of planetesimals that extends from 50 to 140 au. We find that the gap is 20+10-8 au wide. If cleared by a planet in situ, this planet must be less massive than 0.6 MJup, or even lower if the gap was cleared by a planet that formed early in the protoplanetary disc and prevented planetesimal formation at that radius. By comparing opposite sides of the disc we also find that the disc could be asymmetric. Motivated by the asymmetry and the fact that planets might be more frequent closer to the star in exoplanetary systems, we show that the gap and asymmetry could be produced by two planets interior to the disc through secular resonances. These planets excite the eccentricity of bodies at specific disc locations, opening radial gaps in the planetesimal distribution. New observations are necessary to confirm if the disc is truly asymmetric, thus favouring the secular resonance model, or if the apparent asymmetry is due to a background galaxy, favouring the in-situ planet scenario. Finally, we also report the non-detection of CO and HCN gas confirming that no primordial gas is present. The CO and HCN non-detections are consistent with the destruction of volatile-rich Solar System-like comets.

  • 2018 - A Spatially Resolved au-scale Inner Disk around DM Tau
    Kudo, Tomoyuki; Hashimoto, Jun; Muto, Takayuki; Liu, Hauyu Baobab; Dong, Ruobing; Hasegawa, Yasuhiro; Tsukagoshi, Takashi; Konishi, Mihoko

    We present Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) observations of the dust continuum emission at 1.3 mm and 12CO J=2\to 1 line emission of the transitional disk around DM Tau. DM Tau’s disk is thought to possess a dust-free inner cavity inside a few au, from the absence of near-infrared excess on its spectral energy distribution (SED). Previous submillimeter observations were, however, unable to detect the cavity; instead, a dust ring ∼20 au in radius was seen. The excellent angular resolution achieved in the new ALMA observations, 43 × 31 mas, allows discovery of a 4 au radius inner dust ring, confirming previous SED modeling results. This inner ring is symmetric in continuum emission, but asymmetric in 12CO emission. The known (outer) dust ring at ∼20 au is recovered and shows azimuthal asymmetry with a strong-weak side contrast of ∼1.3. The gap between these two rings is depleted by a factor of ∼40 in dust emission relative to the outer ring. An extended outer dust disk is revealed, separated from the outer ring by another gap. The location of the inner ring is comparable to that of the main asteroid belt in the solar system. As a disk with a “proto-asteroid belt,” the DM Tau system offers valuable clues to disk evolution and planet formation in the terrestrial-planet-forming region.

  • 2018 - Methane on Mars and Habitability: Challenges and Responses
    Yung, Yuk L.; Chen, Pin; Nealson, Kenneth; Atreya, Sushil; Beckett, Patrick; Blank, Jennifer G.; Ehlmann, Bethany; Eiler, John; Etiope, Giuseppe; Ferry, James G.; Forget, Francois; Gao, Peter; Hu, Renyu; Kleinböhl, Armin; Klusman, Ronald; Lefèvre, Franck; Miller, Charles; Mischna, Michael; Mumma, Michael; Newman, Sally; Oehler, Dorothy; Okumura, Mitchio; Oremland, Ronald; Orphan, Victoria; Popa, Radu; Russell, Michael; Shen, Linhan; Sherwood Lollar, Barbara; Staehle, Robert; Stamenković, Vlada; Stolper, Daniel; Templeton, Alexis; Vandaele, Ann C.; Viscardy, Sébastien; Webster, Christopher R.; Wennberg, Paul O.; Wong, Michael L.; Worden, Joh

    Recent measurements of methane (CH4) by the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) now confront us with robust data that demand interpretation. Thus far, the MSL data have revealed a baseline level of CH4 (∼0.4 parts per billion by volume [ppbv]), with seasonal variations, as well as greatly enhanced spikes of CH4 with peak abundances of ∼7 ppbv. What do these CH4 revelations with drastically different abundances and temporal signatures represent in terms of interior geochemical processes, or is martian CH4 a biosignature? Discerning how CH4 generation occurs on Mars may shed light on the potential habitability of Mars. There is no evidence of life on the surface of Mars today, but microbes might reside beneath the surface. In this case, the carbon flux represented by CH4 would serve as a link between a putative subterranean biosphere on Mars and what we can measure above the surface. Alternatively, CH4 records modern geochemical activity. Here we ask the fundamental question: how active is Mars, geochemically and/or biologically? In this article, we examine geological, geochemical, and biogeochemical processes related to our overarching question. The martian atmosphere and surface are an overwhelmingly oxidizing environment, and life requires pairing of electron donors and electron acceptors, that is, redox gradients, as an essential source of energy. Therefore, a fundamental and critical question regarding the possibility of life on Mars is, “Where can we find redox gradients as energy sources for life on Mars?” Hence, regardless of the pathway that generates CH4 on Mars, the presence of CH4, a reduced species in an oxidant-rich environment, suggests the possibility of redox gradients supporting life and habitability on Mars. Recent missions such as ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter may provide mapping of the global distribution of CH4. To discriminate between abiotic and biotic sources of CH4 on Mars, future studies should use a series of diagnostic geochemical analyses, preferably performed below the ground or at the ground/atmosphere interface, including measurements of CH4 isotopes, methane/ethane ratios, H2 gas concentration, and species such as acetic acid. Advances in the fields of Mars exploration and instrumentation will be driven, augmented, and supported by an improved understanding of atmospheric chemistry and dynamics, deep subsurface biogeochemistry, astrobiology, planetary geology, and geophysics. Future Mars exploration programs will have to expand the integration of complementary areas of expertise to generate synergistic and innovative ideas to realize breakthroughs in advancing our understanding of the potential of life and habitable conditions having existed on Mars. In this spirit, we conducted a set of interdisciplinary workshops. From this series has emerged a vision of technological, theoretical, and methodological innovations to explore the martian subsurface and to enhance spatial tracking of key volatiles, such as CH4.

  • 2018 - The Transiting Exoplanet Community Early Release Science Program for JWST
    Bean, Jacob L.; Stevenson, Kevin B.; Batalha, Natalie M.; Berta-Thompson, Zachory; Kreidberg, Laura; Crouzet, Nicolas; Benneke, Björn; Line, Michael R.; Sing, David K.; Wakeford, Hannah R.; Knutson, Heather A.; Kempton, Eliza M.-R.; Désert, Jean-Michel; Crossfield, Ian; Batalha, Natasha E.; de Wit, Julien; Parmentier, Vivien; Harrington, Joseph; Moses, Julianne I.; Lopez-Morales, Mercedes; Alam, Munazza K.; Blecic, Jasmina; Bruno, Giovanni; Carter, Aarynn L.; Chapman, John W.; Decin, Leen; Dragomir, Diana; Evans, Thomas M.; Fortney, Jonathan J.; Fraine, Jonathan D.; Gao, Peter; García Muñoz, Antonio; Gibson, Neale P.; Goyal, Jayesh M.; Heng, Kevin; Hu, Renyu; Kendrew, Sarah; Kilpatrick, Brian M.; Krick, Jessica; Lagage, Pierre-Olivier; Lendl, Monika; Louden, Tom; Madhusudhan, Nikku; Mandell, Avi M.; Mansfield, Megan; May, Erin M.; Morello, Giuseppe; Morley, Caroline V.; Nikolov, Nikolay; Redfield, Seth; Roberts, Jessica E.; Schlawin, Everett; Spake, Jessica J.; Todorov, Kamen O.; Tsiaras, Angelos; Venot, Olivia; Waalkes, William C.; Wheatley, Peter J.; Zellem, Robert T.; Angerhausen, Daniel; Barrado, David; Carone, Ludmila; Casewell, Sarah L.; Cubillos, Patricio E.; Damiano, Mario; de Val-Borro, Miguel; Drummond, Benjamin; Edwards, Billy; Endl, Michael; Espinoza, Nestor; France, Kevin; Gizis, John E.; Greene, Thomas P.; Henning, Thomas K.; Hong, Yucian; Ingalls, James G.; Iro, Nicolas; Irwin, Patrick G. J.; Kataria, Tiffany; Lahuis, Fred; Leconte, Jérémy; Lillo-Box, Jorge; Lines, Stefan; Lothringer, Joshua D.; Mancini, Luigi; Marchis, Franck; Mayne, Nathan; Palle, Enric; Rauscher, Emily; Roudier, Gaël; Shkolnik, Evgenya L.; Southworth, John; Swain, Mark R.; Taylor, Jake; Teske, Johanna; Tinetti, Giovanna; Tremblin, Pascal; Tucker, Gregory S.; van Boekel, Roy; Waldmann, Ingo P.; Weaver, Ian C.; Zingales, Tiziano

    The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) presents the opportunity to transform our understanding of planets and the origins of life by revealing the atmospheric compositions, structures, and dynamics of transiting exoplanets in unprecedented detail. However, the high-precision, timeseries observations required for such investigations have unique technical challenges, and prior experience with Hubble, Spitzer, and other facilities indicates that there will be a steep learning curve when JWST becomes operational. In this paper, we describe the science objectives and detailed plans of the Transiting Exoplanet Community Early Release Science (ERS) Program, which is a recently approved program for JWST observations early in Cycle 1. We also describe the simulations used to establish the program. The goal of this project, for which the obtained data will have no exclusive access period, is to accelerate the acquisition and diffusion of technical expertise for transiting exoplanet observations with JWST, while also providing a compelling set of representative data sets that will enable immediate scientific breakthroughs. The Transiting Exoplanet Community ERS Program will exercise the timeseries modes of all four JWST instruments that have been identified as the consensus highest priorities, observe the full suite of transiting planet characterization geometries (transits, eclipses, and phase curves), and target planets with host stars that span an illustrative range of brightnesses. The observations in this program were defined through an inclusive and transparent process that had participation from JWST instrument experts and international leaders in transiting exoplanet studies. The targets have been vetted with previous measurements, will be observable early in the mission, and have exceptional scientific merit. Community engagement in the project will be centered on a two-phase Data Challenge that culminates with the delivery of planetary spectra, timeseries instrument performance reports, and open-source data analysis toolkits in time to inform the agenda for Cycle 2 of the JWST mission.

  • 2018 - A Framework for Prioritizing the TESS Planetary Candidates Most Amenable to Atmospheric Characterization
    Kempton, Eliza M.-R.; Bean, Jacob L.; Louie, Dana R.; Deming, Drake; Koll, Daniel D. B.; Mansfield, Megan; Christiansen, Jessie L.; López-Morales, Mercedes; Swain, Mark R.; Zellem, Robert T.; Ballard, Sarah; Barclay, Thomas; Barstow, Joanna K.; Batalha, Natasha E.; Beatty, Thomas G.; Berta-Thompson, Zach; Birkby, Jayne; Buchhave, Lars A.; Charbonneau, David; Cowan, Nicolas B.; Crossfield, Ian; de Val-Borro, Miguel; Doyon, René; Dragomir, Diana; Gaidos, Eric; Heng, Kevin; Hu, Renyu; Kane, Stephen R.; Kreidberg, Laura; Mallonn, Matthias; Morley, Caroline V.; Narita, Norio; Nascimbeni, Valerio; Pallé, Enric; Quintana, Elisa V.; Rauscher, Emily; Seager, Sara; Shkolnik, Evgenya L.; Sing, David K.; Sozzetti, Alessandro; Stassun, Keivan G.; Valenti, Jeff A.; von Essen, Carolina

    A key legacy of the recently launched the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) mission will be to provide the astronomical community with many of the best transiting exoplanet targets for atmospheric characterization. However, time is of the essence to take full advantage of this opportunity. The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), although delayed, will still complete its nominal five year mission on a timeline that motivates rapid identification, confirmation, and mass measurement of the top atmospheric characterization targets from TESS. Beyond JWST, future dedicated missions for atmospheric studies such as the Atmospheric Remote-sensing Infrared Exoplanet Large-survey (ARIEL) require the discovery and confirmation of several hundred additional sub-Jovian size planets (R p < 10 R ⊕) orbiting bright stars, beyond those known today, to ensure a successful statistical census of exoplanet atmospheres. Ground-based extremely large telescopes (ELTs) will also contribute to surveying the atmospheres of the transiting planets discovered by TESS. Here we present a set of two straightforward analytic metrics, quantifying the expected signal-to-noise in transmission and thermal emission spectroscopy for a given planet, that will allow the top atmospheric characterization targets to be readily identified among the TESS planet candidates. Targets that meet our proposed threshold values for these metrics would be encouraged for rapid follow-up and confirmation via radial velocity mass measurements. Based on the catalog of simulated TESS detections by Sullivan et al., we determine appropriate cutoff values of the metrics, such that the TESS mission will ultimately yield a sample of ∼300 high-quality atmospheric characterization targets across a range of planet size bins, extending down to Earth-size, potentially habitable worlds.

  • 2018 - The MUSCLES Treasury Survey. V. FUV Flares on Active and Inactive M Dwarfs
    Loyd, R. O. Parke; France, Kevin; Youngblood, Allison; Schneider, Christian; Brown, Alexander; Hu, Renyu; Segura, Antígona; Linsky, Jeffrey; Redfield, Seth; Tian, Feng; Rugheimer, Sarah; Miguel, Yamila; Froning, Cynthia S.

    M dwarf stars are known for their vigorous flaring. This flaring could impact the climate of orbiting planets, making it important to characterize M dwarf flares at the short wavelengths that drive atmospheric chemistry and escape. We conducted a far-ultraviolet flare survey of six M dwarfs from the recent MUSCLES (Measurements of the Ultraviolet Spectral Characteristics of Low-mass Exoplanetary Systems) observations, as well as four highly active M dwarfs with archival data. When comparing absolute flare energies, we found the active-M-star flares to be about 10× more energetic than inactive-M-star flares. However, when flare energies were normalized by the star’s quiescent flux, the active and inactive samples exhibited identical flare distributions, with a power-law index of -{0.76}-0.1+0.09 (cumulative distribution). The rate and distribution of flares are such that they could dominate the FUV energy budget of M dwarfs, assuming the same distribution holds to flares as energetic as those cataloged by Kepler and ground-based surveys. We used the observed events to create an idealized model flare with realistic spectral and temporal energy budgets to be used in photochemical simulations of exoplanet atmospheres. Applied to our own simulation of direct photolysis by photons alone (no particles), we find that the most energetic observed flares have little effect on an Earth-like atmosphere, photolyzing ∼0.01% of the total O3 column. The observations were too limited temporally (73 hr cumulative exposure) to catch rare, highly energetic flares. Those that the power-law fit predicts occur monthly would photolyze ∼1% of the O3 column and those it predicts occur yearly would photolyze the full O3 column. Whether such energetic flares occur at the rate predicted is an open question.

  • 2018 - Photochemical Oxygen in Non-1-bar CO2 Atmospheres of Terrestrial Exoplanets
    James, Tre’Shunda; Hu, Renyu

    Atmospheric chemistry models have shown that molecular oxygen can build up in CO2-dominated atmospheres on potentially habitable exoplanets without input of life. Existing models typically assume a surface pressure of 1 bar. Here we present model scenarios of CO2-dominated atmospheres with the surface pressure ranging from 0.1 to 10 bars, while keeping the surface temperature at 288 K. We use a one-dimensional photochemistry model to calculate the abundance of O2 and other key species, for outgassing rates ranging from a Venus-like volcanic activity up to 20 times Earth-like activity. The model maintains the redox balance of the atmosphere and the ocean, and includes the pressure dependency of outgassing on the surface pressure. Our calculations show that the surface pressure is a controlling parameter in the photochemical stability and oxygen buildup of CO2-dominated atmospheres. The mixing ratio of O2 monotonically decreases as the surface pressure increases at very high outgassing rates, whereas it increases as the surface pressure increases at lower-than-Earth outgassing rates. Abiotic O2 can only build up to the detectable level, defined as 10 3 in volume mixing ratio, in 10-bar atmospheres with the Venus-like volcanic activity rate and the reduced outgassing rate of H2 due to the high surface pressure. Our results support the search for biological activities and habitability via atmospheric O2 on terrestrial planets in the habitable zone of Sun-like stars.

  • 2018 - Abiotic O2 Levels on Planets around F, G, K, and M Stars: Effects of Lightning-produced Catalysts in Eliminating Oxygen False Positives
    Harman, C. E.; Felton, R.; Hu, R.; Domagal-Goldman, S. D.; Segura, A.; Tian, F.; Kasting, J. F.

    Over the last few years, a number of authors have suggested that, under certain circumstances, molecular oxygen (O2) or ozone (O3) generated by abiotic processes may accumulate to detectable concentrations in a habitable terrestrial planet’s atmosphere, producing so-called "false positives" for life. But the models have occasionally disagreed with each other, with some predicting false positives, and some not, for the same apparent set of circumstances. We show here that photochemical false positives derive either from inconsistencies in the treatment of atmospheric and global redox balance or from the treatment (or lack thereof) of lightning. For habitable terrestrial planets with even trace amounts of atmospheric N2, NO produced by lightning catalyzes the recombination of CO and O derived from CO2 photolysis and should be sufficient to eliminate all reported false positives. Molecular oxygen thus remains a useful biosignature gas for Earth-like extrasolar planets, provided that the planet resides within the conventional liquid water habitable zone and has not experienced distinctly non-Earth-like, irrecoverable water loss.

  • 2018 - Is there really a debris disc around ζ2 Reticuli?
    Faramaz, Virginie; Bryden, Geoffrey; Stapelfeldt, Karl R.; Booth, Mark; Bayo, Amelia; Beust, Herve; Casassus, Simon; Cuadra, Jorge; Hales, Antonio; Hughes, A. Meredith; Olofsson, Johan; Su, Kate Y. L.; Wilner, David J.

    The presence of a debris disc around the Gyr-old solar-type star ζ2 Reticuli was suggested by the Spitzer infrared excess detection. Follow-up observations with Herschel/PACS revealed a double-lobed feature, that displayed asymmetries both in brightness and position. Therefore, the disc was thought to be edge-on and significantly eccentric. Here we present ALMA/ACA observations in Band 6 and 7 which unambiguously reveal that these lobes show no common proper motion with ζ2 Reticuli. In these observations, no flux has been detected around ζ2 Reticuli that exceeds the 3σ levels. We conclude that surface brightness upper limits of a debris disc around ζ2 Reticuli are 5.7 μJy/arcsec2 at 1.3 mm, and 26 μJy/arcsec2 at 870 microns. Our results overall demonstrate the capability of the ALMA/ACA to follow-up Herschel observations of debris discs and clarify the effects of background confusion.

  • 2018 - "A 2 Earth Radius Planet Orbiting the Bright Nearby K-Dwarf Wolf 503"
    Merrin S. Peterson, Björn Benneke, Courtney D. Dressing, Trevor J. David, David Ciardi, Ian J. M. Crossfield, Eric E. Mamajek, Joshua E. Schlieder, Erik A. Petigura, Jessie L. Christiansen, Benjamin J. Fulton, Andrew W. Howard, Evan Sinukoff, Charles Beichman, Sam Quinn, David W. Latham, Liang Yu, Avi Shporer, Thomas Henning, Chelsea X.Huang, Molly R. Kosiarek, Jason Dittmann, Howard Isaacson

    Since its launch in 2009, the Kepler telescope has found thousands of planets with radii between that of Earth and Neptune. Recent studies of the distribution of these planets have revealed a rift in the population near 1.5-2.0 Earth radii, informally dividing these planets into "super-Earths" and "sub-Neptunes". The origin of this division is not well understood, largely because the majority of planets found by Kepler orbit distant, dim stars and are not amenable to radial velocity follow-up or transit spectroscopy, making bulk density and atmospheric measurements difficult. Here, we present the discovery and validation of a newly found 2.03 +/- 0.08 Earth radius planet in direct proximity to the radius gap, orbiting the bright (J=8.32 mag), nearby (D=44.5 pc) high proper motion star Wolf 503 (EPIC 212779563). We classify Wolf 503 as a K3.5V star and member of the thick disc population. We determine the possibility of a companion star and false positive detection to be extremely low using both archival images and high-contrast adaptive optics images from the Palomar observatory. The brightness of the host star makes Wolf 503b a prime target for prompt radial velocity follow-up, HST transit spectroscopy, as well as detailed atmospheric characterization with JWST. With its measured radius near the gap in the planet radius and occurrence rate distribution, Wolf 503b offers a key opportunity to better understand the origin of this radius gap as well as the nature of the intriguing populations of "super-Earths" and "sub-Neptunes" as a whole.

  • 2018 - "A TESS Dress Rehearsal: Planetary Candidates and Variables from K2 Campaign 17"
    Ian J. M. Crossfield, Natalia Guerrero, Trevor David, Samuel N. Quinn, Adina D. Feinstein, Chelsea Huang, Liang Yu, Karen A. Collins, Benjamin J. Fulton, Bjoern Benneke, Merrin Peterson, Allyson Bieryla, Joshua E. Schlieder, Molly R. Kosiarek, Makennah Bristow, Elisabeth Newton, Megan Bedell, David W. Latham, Jessie L. Christiansen, Gilbert A. Esquerdo, Perry Berlind, Michael L. Calkins, Avi Shporer, Jennifer Burt, Sarah Ballard, Joseph E. Rodriguez, Nicholas Mehrle, Sara Seager, Jason Dittmann, David Berardo, Lizhou Sha, Zahra Essack, Zhuchang Zhan, Martin Owens, Isabel Kain, John H. Livingston, Erik A. Petigura, Courtney D. Dressing, Erica J. Gonzales, Howard Isaacson, Andrew W. Howard

    We produce light curves for all ~34,000 targets observed with K2 in Campaign 17 (C17), identifying 34 planet candidates, 184 eclipsing binaries, and 222 other periodic variables. The location of the C17 field means follow-up can begin immediately now that the campaign has concluded and interesting targets have been identified. The C17 field has a large overlap with C6, so this latest campaign also offers a rare opportunity to study a large number of targets already observed in a previous K2 campaign. The timing of the C17 data release, shortly before science operations begin with the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), also lets us exercise some of the tools and methods developed for identification and dissemination of planet candidates from TESS. We find excellent agreement between these results and those identified using only K2-based tools. Among our planet candidates are several planet candidates with sizes < 4 Earth radii and orbiting stars with KepMag < 10 (indicating good RV targets of the sort TESS hopes to find) and a Jupiter-sized single-transit event around a star already hosting a 6 d planet candidate.

  • 2018 - "Constraining the presence of giant planets in two-belt debris disc systems with VLT/SPHERE direct imaging and dynamical arguments"
    Elisabeth Matthews, Sasha Hinkley, Arthur Vigan, Grant Kennedy, Ben Sutlieff, Dawn Wickenden, Sam Treves, Trevor David, Tiffany Meshkat, Dimitri Mawet, Farisa Morales, Andrew Shannon, Karl Stapelfeldt

    Giant, wide-separation planets often lie in the gap between multiple, distinct rings of circumstellar debris: this is the case for the HR 8799 and HD 95086 systems, and even the Solar system where the Asteroid and Kuiper belts enclose the four gas and ice giants. In the case that a debris disc, inferred from an infrared excess in the SED, is best modelled as two distinct temperatures, we infer the presence of two spatially separated rings of debris. Giant planets may well exist between these two belts of debris, and indeed could be responsible for the formation of the gap between these belts. We observe 24 such two-belt systems using the VLT/SPHERE high-contrast imager, and interpret our results under the assumption that the gap is indeed formed by one or more giant planets. A theoretical minimum mass for each planet can then be calculated, based on the predicted dynamical time-scales to clear debris. The typical dynamical lower limit is ˜0.2MJ in this work, and in some cases exceeds 1MJ. Direct imaging data, meanwhile, are typically sensitive to planets down to ˜3.6MJ at 1 arcsec, and 1.7MJ in the best case. Together, these two limits tightly constrain the possible planetary systems present around each target, many of which will be detectable with the next generation of high-contrast imagers.

  • 2018 - "The Origin of Heavy Element Content Trend in Giant Planets via Core Accretion"
    Hasegawa, Yasuhiro; Bryden, Geoffrey; Ikoma, Masahiro; Vasisht, Gautam; Swain, Mark

    We explore the origin of the trend of heavy elements in observed massive exoplanets. Coupling of better measurements of mass ($M_p$) and radius of exoplanets with planet structure models enables estimating the total heavy element mass ($M_Z$) in these planets. The corresponding relation is characterized by a power-law profile, $M_Z \propto M_p^{3/5}$. We develop a simplified, but physically motivated analysis to investigate how the power-law profile can be produced under the current picture of planet formation. Making use of the existing semi-analytical formulae of accretion rates of pebbles and planetesimals, our analysis shows that the relation can be reproduced well if it traces the final stage of planet formation. In the stage, planets accrete solids from gapped planetesimal disks and gas accretion is limited by disk evolution. We also find that dust accretion accompanying with gas accretion does not contribute to $M_Z$ for planets with $M_p < 10^3 M_{\oplus}$. Our findings are broadly consistent with that of previous studies, yet we explicitly demonstrate how planetesimal dynamics is crucial for better understanding the relation. While our approach is simple, we can also reproduce the trend of a correlation between planet metallicity and $M_p$ that is obtained by detailed population synthesis calculations, when the same assumption is adopted. Our analysis suggests that pebble accretion would not play a direct role at the final stage of planet formation, whereas radial drift of pebbles might be important indirectly for metal enrichment of planets. Detailed numerical simulations and more observational data are required for confirming our analysis.

  • 2018 - "Abundances of Ordinary Chondrites in Thermally Evolving Planetesimals"
    Wakita, Shigeru; Hasegawa, Yasuhiro; Nozawa, Takaya

    Chondrites are some of the most primitive objects in the solar system, and they maintain a record of the degree of thermal metamorphism experienced in their parent bodies. This thermal history can be classified by the petrologic type. We investigate the thermal evolution of planetesimals to account for the current abundances (known as the fall statistics) of petrologic types 3-6 of ordinary chondrites. We carry out a number of numerical calculations in which formation times and sizes of planetesimals are taken as parameters. We find that planetesimals that form within 2.0 Myr after the formation of Ca-Al-rich inclusions (CAIs) can contain all petrologic types of ordinary chondrites. Our results also indicate that plausible scenarios of planetesimal formation, which are consistent with the fall statistics, are that planetesimals with radii larger than 60 km start to form around 2.0 Myr after CAIs and/or that ones with radii less than 50 km should be formed within 1.5 Myr after CAIs. Thus, thermal modeling of planetesimals is important for revealing the occurrence and amount of metamorphosed chondrites and for providing invaluable insights into planetesimal formation.

  • 2018 - "Dust Growth and Dynamics in Protoplanetary Nebulae: Implications for Opacity, Thermal Profile and Gravitational Instability"
    Sengupta, Debanjan; Dodson-Robinson, Sarah E.; Hasegawa, Yasuhiro; Turner, Neal J.

    In spite of making a small contribution to total protoplanetary disk mass, dust affects the disk temperature by controlling absorption of starlight. As grains grow from their initial ISM-like size distribution, settling depletes the disk's upper layers of dust and decreases the optical depth, cooling the interior. Here we investigate the effect of collisional growth of dust grains and their dynamics on the thermal and optical profile of the disk, and explore the possibility that cooling induced by grain growth and settling could lead to gravitational instability. We develop a Monte Carlo dust collision model with a weighting technique and allow particles to collisionally evolve through sticking and fragmentation, along with vertical settling and turbulent mixing. We explore two disk models, the MMEN (minimum-mass extrasolar nebula), and a "heavy" disk with higher surface density than the MMEN, and perform simulations for both constant and spatially variable turbulence efficiency profile $\alpha(R,z)$. We then calculate mean wavelength-dependent opacities for the evolving disks and perform radiative transfer to calculate the temperature profile $T(R,z)$. Finally, we calculate the Toomre Q parameter, a measure of the disk's stability against self-gravity, for each disk model after it reaches a steady state dust-size distribution. We find that even weak turbulence can keep sub-micron sized particles stirred in the disk's upper layer, affecting its optical and thermal profiles, and the growth of large particles in the midplane can make a massive disk optically thick at millimeter wavelengths, making it difficult to calculate the surface density of dust available for planet formation in the inner disk. Also, for an initially massive disk, grain settling and growth can produce a drop in the Toomre Q parameter, driving the disk to $Q < 1.4$ and possibly triggering spiral instabilities.

  • 2018 - "Using Deep Space Climate Observatory Measurements to Study the Earth as an Exoplanet"
    Jiang, Jonathan H.; Zhai, Albert J.; Herman, Jay; Zhai, Chengxing; Hu, Renyu; Su, Hui; Natraj, Vijay; Li, Jiazheng; Xu, Feng; Yung, Yuk L

    Even though it was not designed as an exoplanetary research mission, the Deep Space Climate Observatory ( DSCOVR ) has been opportunistically used for a novel experiment in which Earth serves as a proxy exoplanet. More than 2 yr of DSCOVR Earth images were employed to produce time series of multiwavelength, single-point light sources in order to extract information on planetary rotation, cloud patterns, surface type, and orbit around the Sun. In what follows, we assume that these properties of the Earth are unknown and instead attempt to derive them from first principles. These conclusions are then compared with known data about our planet. We also used the DSCOVR data to simulate phase-angle changes, as well as the minimum data collection rate needed to determine the rotation period of an exoplanet. This innovative method of using the time evolution of a multiwavelength, reflected single-point light source can be deployed for retrieving a range of intrinsic properties of an exoplanet around a distant star.

  • 2018 - "Exoplanet Biosignatures: A Review of Remotely Detectable Signs of Life"
    Schwieterman, Edward W.; Kiang, Nancy Y.; Parenteau, Mary N.; Harman, Chester E.; DasSarma, Shiladitya; Fisher, Theresa M.; Arney, Giada N.; Hartnett, Hilairy E.; Reinhard, Christopher T.; Olson, Stephanie L.; Meadows, Victoria S.; Cockell, Charles S.; Walker, Sara I.; Grenfell, John Lee; Hegde, Siddharth; Rugheimer, Sarah; Hu, Renyu; Lyons, Timothy W

    In the coming years and decades, advanced space- and ground-based observatories will allow an unprecedented opportunity to probe the atmospheres and surfaces of potentially habitable exoplanets for signatures of life. Life on Earth, through its gaseous products and reflectance and scattering properties, has left its fingerprint on the spectrum of our planet. Aided by the universality of the laws of physics and chemistry, we turn to Earth's biosphere, both in the present and through geologic time, for analog signatures that will aid in the search for life elsewhere. Considering the insights gained from modern and ancient Earth, and the broader array of hypothetical exoplanet possibilities, we have compiled a state-of-the-art overview of our current understanding of potential exoplanet biosignatures including gaseous, surface, and temporal biosignatures. We additionally survey biogenic spectral features that are well-known in the specialist literature but have not yet been robustly vetted in the context of exoplanet biosignatures. We briefly review advances in assessing biosignature plausibility, including novel methods for determining chemical disequilibrium from remotely obtainable data and assessment tools for determining the minimum biomass required for a given atmospheric signature. We focus particularly on advances made since the seminal review by Des Marais et al. (2002). The purpose of this work is not to propose new biosignatures strategies, a goal left to companion papers in this series, but to review the current literature, draw meaningful connections between seemingly disparate areas, and clear the way for a path forward.

  • 2018 - "Baseline Requirements For Detecting Biosignatures with the HabEx and LUVOIR Mission Concepts"
    Wang, Ji; Mawet, Dimitri; Hu, Renyu; Ruane, Garreth; Delorme, Jacques-Robert; Klimovic, Nikita

    A milestone in understanding life in the universe is the detection of biosignature gases in the atmospheres of habitable exoplanets. Future mission concepts under study by the 2020 decadal survey, e.g., HabEx and LUVOIR, have the potential of achieving this goal. We investigate the baseline requirements for detecting four molecular species, H$_2$O, O$_2$, CH$_4$, and CO$_2$, assuming concentrations of these species equal to that of modern Earth. These molecules are highly relevant to habitability and life on Earth and other planets. Through numerical simulations, we find the minimum requirements of spectral resolution, starlight suppression, and exposure time for detecting biosignature and habitability marker gases. The results are highly dependent on cloud conditions. A low-cloud case is more favorable because of deeper and denser lines whereas a no-cloud case is the pessimistic case for its low albedo. The minimum exposure time for detecting a certain molecule species can vary by a large factor ($\sim$10) between the low-cloud case and the no-cloud case. For all cases, we provide baseline requirements for HabEx and LUVOIR. The impact of exo-zodiacal contamination and thermal background is also discussed and will be included in future studies.

  • 2018 - "Photopolarimetric characteristics of brown dwarfs, Part I: uniform cloud decks"
    Sanghavi, Suniti; Shporer, Avi

    This work is a theoretical exploration for facilitating the interpretation of polarimetric observations in terms of cloudiness, rotational velocities and effective temperatures of brown dwarfs (BDs). An envelope of scatterers like free-electrons, atoms/molecules, or haze/clouds affects the Stokes-vector of radiation emitted by oblate bodies. Due to high rotation rates, BDs can be considerably oblate. We present a conics-based radiative transfer (RT) scheme for computing the disc-resolved and disc-integrated polarized emission of an oblate BD or extrasolar giant planet (EGP) bearing homogenous or patchy clouds. Assuming a uniform grey atmosphere, we theoretically examine the photopolarimetric sensitivity to its scattering properties like cloud optical thickness and grain-size, concurrently with BD properties, like oblateness, inclination and effective temperature, which are all treated as free parameters. Additionally, we examine the potential effects of gravitational darkening (GD), revealing that it could significantly amplify disc-integrated polarization. GD imparts a non-linear inverse temperature-dependence to the resulting polarization.

    Photopolarimetric observations are sensitive to oblateness and inclination. The degree-of-polarization (DoP) increases in response to both, making it potentially useful for assessing the spatial orientation of the BD. Under our model assumptions, increasing droplet size in optically thick clouds causes a blue-ward shift in near-infrared (NIR) colors of BDs --- interesting in view of the observed J-K brightening in L/T transition. For large cloud grains, polarization decreases sharply, while transmitted intensity shows a steady increase. BD polarization is thus a potential indicator not only of the presence of clouds but also provides information on cloud grain size.

  • 2018 - "Buildup of Abiotic Oxygen and Ozone in Moist Atmospheres of Temperate Terrestrial Exoplanets and its Impact on the Spectral Fingerprint in Transit Observations"
    Kleinböhl, Armin; Willacy, Karen; Friedson, A. James; Chen, Pin; Swain, Mark R.

    We investigate the abiotic production of oxygen and its photochemical byproduct ozone through water vapor photolysis in moist atmospheres of temperate terrestrial exoplanets. The amount of water vapor available for photolysis in the middle atmosphere of a planet can be limited by an atmospheric cold-trap, the formation of which largely depends on the amount of non-condensable gases. We study this effect using a photochemical model coupled to a 1D radiative-convective equilibrium model in atmospheres with N2, CO2 and H2O as the main constituents. We find that in atmospheres with a low N2 inventory, water vapor mixing ratios in the middle atmosphere can be over two orders of magnitude higher compared to atmospheres with an Earth-like N2 inventory. Without a strong surface sink, the non-condensable oxygen can build up rapidly, drying out the upper atmosphere. With a moderate surface sink, the planet can approach a steady state with significant oxygen mixing ratios in which oxygen production is balanced by surface uptake. We use a radiative transfer model to study the spectroscopic fingerprint of these atmospheres in transit observations. Spectral signatures of abiotic oxygen and ozone can be of comparable magnitude as in spectra of Earth seen as an exoplanet. Middle atmospheric water vapor is unlikely to be a usable indicator of the abiotic origin of oxygen because of the influence of oxygen on the water vapor distribution. This suggests that atmospheric oxygen and ozone cannot be used as binary bioindicators and their interpretation will likely require atmospheric and planetary models.

  • 2018 - "Three small planets transiting the bright young field star K2-233"
    David, Trevor; Crossfield, Ian; Benneke; Björn; Petigura, Erik; Gonzales, Erica; Schlieder, Joshua; Yu, Liang, Isaacson, Howard; Howard, Andrew; Ciardi, David; Mamajek, Eric; Hillenbrand, Lynne; Cody, Ann Marie; Riedel, Adric; Schwengeler, Hans Martin; Tanner, Christopher; Ende, Martin

    We report the detection of three small transiting planets around the young K3 dwarf K2-233 (2MASS J15215519-2013539) from observations during Campaign 15 of the K2 mission. The star is relatively nearby (d = 69 pc) and bright (V = 10.7 mag, Ks = 8.4 mag), making the planetary system an attractive target for radial velocity follow-up and atmospheric characterization with the James Webb Space Telescope. The inner two planets are hot super-Earths (Rb = 1.40 ± 0.06 R⊕, Rc = 1.34 ± 0.08 R⊕), while the outer planet is a warm sub-Neptune (Rd = 2.6 ± 0.1 R⊕). We estimate the stellar age to be 360 (+490, −140) Myr based on rotation, activity, and kinematic indicators. The K2-233 system is particularly interesting given recent evidence for inflated radii in planets around similarly-aged stars, a trend potentially related to photo-evaporation, core-cooling, or both mechanisms.

  • 2018 - "A gap in the planetesimal disc around HD 107146 and asymmetric warm dust emission revealed by ALMA"
    Marino, S.; Carpenter, J.; Wyatt, M. C.; Booth, M.; Casassus, S.; Faramaz, V.; Guzman, V.; Hughes, A. M.; Kennedy, A. Isella G. M.; Matrà, L.; Ricci, L.; Corder, S.

    While detecting low mass exoplanets at tens of au is beyond current instrumentation, debris discs provide a unique opportunity to study the outer regions of planetary systems. Here we report new ALMA observations of the 80-200 Myr old Solar analogue HD 107146 that reveal the radial structure of its exo-Kuiper belt at wavelengths of 1.1 and 0.86 mm. We find that the planetesimal disc is broad, extending from 40 to 140 au, and it is characterised by a circular gap extending from 60 to 100 au in which the continuum emission drops by about 50%. We also report the non-detection of the CO J=3-2 emission line, confirming that there is not enough gas to affect the dust distribution. To date, HD 107146 is the only gas-poor system showing multiple rings in the distribution of millimeter sized particles. These rings suggest a similar distribution of the planetesimals producing small dust grains that could be explained invoking the presence of one or more perturbing planets. Because the disk appears axisymmetric, such planets should be on circular orbits. By comparing N-body simulations with the observed visibilities we find that to explain the radial extent and depth of the gap, it would be required the presence of multiple low mass planets or a single planet that migrated through the disc. Interior to HD 107146's exo-Kuiper belt we find extended emission with a peak at ~20 au and consistent with the inner warm belt that was previously predicted based on 22$\mu$m excess as in many other systems. This warm belt is the first to be imaged, although unexpectedly suggesting that it is asymmetric. This could be due to a large belt eccentricity or due to clumpy structure produced by resonant trapping with an additional inner planet.

  • 2018 - "Differences in the Gas and Dust Distribution in the Transitional Disk of a Sun-like Young Star, PDS 70"
    Long, Zachary C.; Akiyama, Eiji; Sitko, Michael; Fernandes, Rachel B.; Assani, Korash; Grady, Carol A.; Cure, Michel; Danchi, William C.; Dong, Ruobing; Fukagawa, Misato; Hasegawa, Yasuhiro; Hashimoto, Jun; Henning, Thomas; Inutsuka, Shu-Ichiro; Kraus, Stefan; Kwon, Jungmi; Lisse, Carey M.; Baobabu Liu, Hauyu; Mayama, Satoshi; Muto, Takayuki; Nakagawa, Takao; Takami, Michihiro; Tamura, Motohide; Currie, Thayne; Wisniewski, John P.; Yang, Yi

    We present ALMA 0.87 mm continuum, HCO+ J = 4–3 emission line, and CO J = 3–2 emission line data of the disk of material around the young, Sun-like star PDS 70. These data reveal the existence of a possible two-component transitional disk system with a radial dust gap of 0.″42 ± 0.″05, an azimuthal gap in the HCO+ J = 4–3 moment zero map, as well as two bridge-like features in the gas data. Interestingly these features in the gas disk have no analog in the dust disk making them of particular interest. We modeled the dust disk using the Monte Carlo radiative transfer code HOCHUNK3D using a two-disk component. We find that there is a radial gap that extends from 15 to 60 au in all grain sizes, which differs from previous work.

  • 2018 - "Detection of 40-48 GHz dust continuum linear polarization towards the Class 0 young stellar object IRAS 16293-2422"
    Liu, Hauyu Baobab; Hasegawa, Yasuhiro; Ching, Tao-Chung; Lai, Shih-Ping; Hirano, Naomi; Rao, Ramprasad

    We performed the new JVLA full polarization observations at 40-48 GHz (6.3-7.5 mm) towards the nearby ($d$ $=$147$\pm$3.4 pc) Class 0 YSO IRAS 16293-2422, and compare with the previous SMA observations reported by Rao et al. (2009; 2014). We observed the quasar J1407+2827 which is weakly polarized and can be used as a leakage term calibrator for $<$9 GHz observations, to gauge the potential residual polarization leakage after calibration. We did not detect Stokes Q, U, and V intensities from the observations of J1407+2827, and constrain (3-$\sigma$) the residual polarization leakage after calibration to be $\lesssim$0.3\%. We detect linear polarization from one of the two binary components of our target source, IRAS\,16293-2422\,B. The derived polarization position angles from our observations are in excellent agreement with those detected from the previous observations of the SMA, implying that on the spatial scale we are probing ($\sim$50-1000 au), the physical mechanisms for polarizing the continuum emission do not vary significantly over the wavelength range of $\sim$0.88-7.5 mm. We hypothesize that the observed polarization position angles trace the magnetic field which converges from large scale to an approximately face-on rotating accretion flow. In this scenario, magnetic field is predominantly poloidal on $>$100 au scales, and becomes toroidal on smaller scales. However, this interpretation remains uncertain due to the high dust optical depths at the central region of IRAS\,16293-2422\,B and the uncertain temperature profile. We suggest that dust polarization at wavelengths comparable or longer than 7\,mm may still trace interstellar magnetic field. Future sensitive observations of dust polarization in the fully optically thin regime will have paramount importance for unambiguously resolving the magnetic field configuration.

  • 2018 - "Eccentric Cavity, Triple Rings, Two-Armed Spirals, and Double Clumps of the MWC 758 Disk"
    Dong, Ruobing; Liu, Sheng-yuan; Eisner, Josh; Andrews, Sean; Fung, Jeffrey; Zhu, Zhaohuan; Chiang, Eugene; Hashimoto, Jun; Liu, Hauyu Baobab; Casassus, Simon; Esposito, Thomas; Hasegawa, Yasuhiro; Muto, Takayuki; Pavlyuchenkov, Yaroslav; Wilner, David; Akiyama, Eiji; Tamura, Motohide; Wisniewski, John

    Spatially resolved structures in protoplanetary disks hint at unseen planets. Previous imaging observations of the transitional disk around MWC 758 revealed an inner cavity, a ring-like outer disk, emission clumps, and spiral arms, all possibly generated by companions. We present ALMA dust continuum observations of MWC 758 at 0.87 millimeter (mm) wavelength with 43$\times$39 mas angular resolution (6.9$\times$6.2 AU) and 20 $\mu$Jy beam$^{-1}$ rms. The central sub-mm emission cavity is revealed to be eccentric; once deprojected, its outer edge can be well-fitted by an ellipse with an eccentricity of 0.1 and one focus on the star. The broad ring-like outer disk is resolved into three narrow rings with two gaps in between. The outer two rings tentatively show the same eccentricity and orientation as the innermost ring bounding the inner cavity. The two previously known dust emission clumps are resolved in both the radial and azimuthal directions, with radial widths equal to $\sim$4$\times$ the local scale height. Only one of the two spiral arms previously imaged in near-infrared (NIR) scattered light is revealed in ALMA dust emission, at a slightly larger stellocentric distance owing to projection effects. We also submit evidence of disk truncation at $\sim$100 AU based on comparing NIR imaging observations with models. The spirals, the north clump, and the truncated disk edge are all broadly consistent with the presence of one companion exterior to the spirals at roughly 100 AU.

  • 2018 - "Validation and Initial Characterization of the Long-period Planet Kepler-1654 b"
    Beichman, C. A.; Giles, H. A. C.; Akeson, R.; Ciardi, D.; Christiansen, J.; Isaacson, H.; Marcy, G. M.; Sinukoff, E.; Greene, T.; Fortney, J. J.; Crossfield, I.; Hu, R.; Howard, A. W.; Petigura, E. A.; Knutson, H. A.

    Fewer than 20 transiting Kepler planets have periods longer than one year. Our early search of the Kepler light curves revealed one such system, Kepler-1654b (originally KIC 8410697b), which shows exactly two transit events and whose second transit occurred only five days before the failure of the second of two reaction wheels brought the primary Kepler mission to an end. A number of authors have also examined light curves from the Kepler mission searching for long-period planets and identified this candidate. Starting in 2014 September, we began an observational program of imaging, reconnaissance spectroscopy, and precision radial velocity (RV) measurements that confirm with a high degree of confidence that Kepler-1654b is a bona fide transiting planet orbiting a mature G5V star (T eff = 5580 K, [Fe/H] = ‑0.08) with a semimajor axis of 2.03 au, a period of 1047.84 days, and a radius of 0.82 ± 0.02 R Jup. RV measurements using Keck’s HIRES spectrometer obtained over 2.5 years set a limit to the planet’s mass of >0.5 (3σ) M Jup. The bulk density of the planet is similar to that of Saturn or possibly lower. We assess the suitability of temperate gas giants like Kepler-1654b for transit spectroscopy with the James Webb Space Telescope, as their relatively cold equilibrium temperatures (T pl ∼ 200 K) make them interesting from the standpoint of exoplanet atmospheric physics. Unfortunately, these low temperatures also make the atmospheric scale heights small and thus transmission spectroscopy challenging. Finally, the long time between transits can make scheduling JWST observations difficult—as is the case with Kepler-1654b.

  • 2018 - "Signatures of Lithospheric Flexure and Elevated Heat Flow in Stereo Topography at Coronae on Venus"
    O'Rourke, Joseph G.; Smrekar, Suzanne E.

    Signatures of lithospheric flexure were previously identified at a dozen or more large coronae on Venus. Thin plate models fit to topographic profiles return elastic parameters, allowing derivation of mechanical thickness and surface heat flows given an assumed yield strength envelope. However, the low resolution of altimetry data from the NASA Magellan mission has hindered studying the vast majority of coronae, particularly those less than a few hundred kilometers in diameter. Here we search for flexural signatures around 99 coronae over ˜20% of the surface in Magellan altimetry data and stereo-derived topography that was recently assembled from synthetic aperture radar images. We derive elastic thicknesses of ˜2 to 30 km (mostly ˜5 to 15 km) with Cartesian and axisymmetric models at 19 coronae. We discuss the implications of low values that were also noted in earlier gravity studies. Most mechanical thicknesses are estimated as >19 km, corresponding to thermal gradients <24 K km-1. Implied surface heat flows >95 mW m-2—twice the global average in many thermal evolution models—imply that coronae are major contributors to the total heat budget or Venus is cooling faster than expected. Binomial statistics show that "Type 2" coronae with incomplete fracture annuli are significantly less likely to host flexural signatures than "Type 1" coronae with largely complete annuli. Stress calculations predict extensional faulting where nearly all profiles intersect concentric fractures. We failed to identify systematic variations in flexural parameters based on type, geologic setting, or morphologic class. Obtaining quality, high-resolution topography from a planet wide survey is vital to verifying our conclusions.

  • 2018 - "Hubble PanCET: An isothermal day-side atmosphere for the bloated gas-giant HAT-P-32Ab"
    Nikolov, N.; Sing, D. K.; Goyal, J.; Henry, G. W.; Wakeford, H. R.; Evans, T. M.; Lopez-Morales, M.; Garcia Munoz, A.; Ben-Jaffel, L.; Sanz-Forcada, J.; Ballester, G. E.; Kataria, T.; Barstow, J. K.; Bourrier, V.; Buchhave, L. A.; Cohen, O.; Deming, D.; Ehrenreich, D.; Knutson, H.; Lavvas, P; Lecavelier des Etangs, A.; Lewis, N. K.; Williamson, A. M. Mandell M. H.

    We present a thermal emission spectrum of the bloated hot Jupiter HAT-P-32Ab from a single eclipse observation made in spatial scan mode with the Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) aboard the Hubble Space Telescope (HST). The spectrum covers the wavelength regime from 1.123 to 1.644 microns which is binned into 14 eclipse depths measured to an averaged precision of 104 parts-per million. The spectrum is unaffected by a dilution from the close M-dwarf companion HAT-P-32B, which was fully resolved. We complemented our spectrum with literature results and performed a comparative forward and retrieval analysis with the 1D radiative-convective ATMO model. Assuming solar abundance of the planet atmosphere, we find that the measured spectrum can best be explained by the spectrum of a blackbody isothermal atmosphere with Tp = 1995 +/- 17K, but can equally-well be described by a spectrum with modest thermal inversion. The retrieved spectrum suggests emission from VO at the WFC3 wavelengths and no evidence of the 1.4 micron water feature. The emission models with temperature profiles decreasing with height are rejected at a high confidence. An isothermal or inverted spectrum can imply a clear atmosphere with an absorber, a dusty cloud deck or a combination of both. We find that the planet can have continuum of values for the albedo and recirculation, ranging from high albedo and poor recirculation to low albedo and efficient recirculation. Optical spectroscopy of the planet's day-side or thermal emission phase curves can potentially resolve the current albedo with recirculation degeneracy.

  • 2018 - "Phase curves of WASP-33b and HD 149026b and a New Correlation Between Phase Curve Offset and Irradiation Temperature"
    Zhang, Michael; Knutson, Heather A.; Kataria, Tiffany; Schwartz, Joel C.; Cowan, Nicolas B.; Showman, Adam P.; Burrows, Adam; Fortney, Jonathan J.; Todorov, Kamen; Desert, Jean-Michel; Agol, Eric; Deming, Drake

    We present new 3.6 and 4.5 $\mu m$ Spitzer phase curves for the highly irradiated hot Jupiter WASP-33b and the unusually dense Saturn-mass planet HD 149026b. As part of this analysis, we develop a new variant of pixel level decorrelation that is effective at removing intrapixel sensitivity variations for long observations (>10 hours) where the position of the star can vary by a significant fraction of a pixel. Using this algorithm, we measure eclipse depths, phase amplitudes, and phase offsets for both planets at 3.6 $\mu m$ and 4.5 $\mu m$. We use a simple toy model to show that WASP-33b's phase offset, albedo, and heat recirculation efficiency are largely similar to those of other hot Jupiters despite its very high irradiation. On the other hand, our fits for HD 149026b prefer a very high albedo and an unusually high recirculation efficiency. We also compare our results to predictions from general circulation models, and find that while neither are a good match to the data, the discrepancies for HD 149026b are especially large. We speculate that this may be related to its high bulk metallicity, which could lead to enhanced atmospheric opacities and the formation of reflective cloud layers in localized regions of the atmosphere. We then place these two planets in a broader context by exploring relationships between the temperatures, albedos, heat transport efficiencies, and phase offsets of all planets with published thermal phase curves. We find a striking relationship between phase offset and irradiation temperature--the former drops with increasing temperature until around 3400 K, and rises thereafter. Although some aspects of this trend are mirrored in the circulation models, there are notable differences that provide important clues for future modeling efforts.

  • 2018 - "The Complete transmission spectrum of WASP-39b with a precise water constraint"
    Wakeford, Hannah R.; Sing, David K.; Deming, Drake; Lewis, Nikole K.; Goyal, Jayesh; Wilson, Tom J.; Barstow, Joanna; Kataria, Tiffany; Drummond, Benjamin; Evans, Thomas M.; Carter, Aarynn L.; Nikolov, Nikolay; Knutson, Heather A.; Ballester, Gilda E.; Mandell, Avi M.

    WASP-39b is a hot Saturn-mass exoplanet with a predicted clear atmosphere based on observations in the optical and infrared. Here we complete the transmission spectrum of the atmosphere with observations in the near-infrared (NIR) over three water absorption features with the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) G102 (0.8-1.1 microns) and G141 (1.1-1.7 microns) spectroscopic grisms. We measure the predicted high amplitude H2O feature centered at 1.4 microns, and the smaller amplitude features at 0.95 and 1.2 microns, with a maximum water absorption amplitude of 2.4 planetary scale heights. We incorporate these new NIR measurements into previously published observational measurements to complete the transmission spectrum from 0.3-5 microns. From these observed water features, combined with features in the optical and IR, we retrieve a well constrained temperature Teq = 1030(+30,-20) K, and atmospheric metallicity 151 (+48,-46)x solar which is relatively high with respect to the currently established mass-metallicity trends. This new measurement in the Saturn-mass range hints at further diversity in the planet formation process relative to our solar system giants.

Papers Published in 2017

  • 2017 - "An analytical formalism accounting for clouds and other 'surfaces' for exoplanet transmission spectroscopy"
    Bétrémieux, Yan; Swain, Mark R.

    Although the formalism of Lecavelier des Etangs et al. is extremely useful to understand what shapes transmission spectra of exoplanets, it does not include the effects of a sharp change in flux with altitude generally associated with surfaces and optically thick clouds. Recent advances in understanding the effects of refraction in exoplanet transmission spectra have, however, demonstrated that even clear thick atmospheres have such a sharp change in flux due to a refractive boundary. We derive a more widely applicable analytical formalism by including first-order effects from all these 'surfaces' to compute an exoplanet's effective radius, effective atmospheric thickness and spectral modulation for an atmosphere with a constant scaleheight. We show that the effective radius cannot be located below these 'surfaces' and that our formalism matches the formalism of Lecavelier des Etangs et al. in the case of a clear atmosphere. Our formalism explains why clouds and refraction reduce the contrast of spectral features, and why refraction decreases the Rayleigh scattering slope as wavelength increases, but also shows that these are common effects of all 'surfaces'. We introduce the concept of a 'surface' cross-section, the minimum mean cross-section that can be observed, as an index to characterize the location of 'surfaces' and provide a simple method to estimate their effects on the spectral modulation of homogeneous atmospheres. We finally devise a numerical recipe that extends our formalism to atmospheres with a non-constant scaleheight and arbitrary sources of opacity, a potentially necessary step to interpret observations.

  • 2017 - "A Case for an Atmosphere on Super-Earth 55 Cancri e"
    Angelo, Isabel; Hu, Renyu

    One of the primary questions when characterizing Earth-sized and super-Earth-sized exoplanets is whether they have a substantial atmosphere like Earth and Venus or a bare-rock surface like Mercury. Phase curves of the planets in thermal emission provide clues to this question, because a substantial atmosphere would transport heat more efficiently than a bare-rock surface. Analyzing phase-curve photometric data around secondary eclipses has previously been used to study energy transport in the atmospheres of hot Jupiters. Here we use phase curve, Spitzer time-series photometry to study the thermal emission properties of the super-Earth exoplanet 55 Cancri e. We utilize a semianalytical framework to fit a physical model to the infrared photometric data at 4.5 μm. The model uses parameters of planetary properties including Bond albedo, heat redistribution efficiency (I.e., ratio between radiative timescale and advective timescale of the atmosphere), and the atmospheric greenhouse factor. The phase curve of 55 Cancri e is dominated by thermal emission with an eastward-shifted hotspot. We determine the heat redistribution efficiency to be {1.47}-0.25+0.30, which implies that the advective timescale is on the same order as the radiative timescale. This requirement cannot be met by the bare-rock planet scenario because heat transport by currents of molten lava would be too slow. The phase curve thus favors the scenario with a substantial atmosphere. Our constraints on the heat redistribution efficiency translate to an atmospheric pressure of ˜1.4 bar. The Spitzer 4.5 μm band is thus a window into the deep atmosphere of the planet 55 Cancri e.

  • 2017 - "Observing Exoplanets with High Dispersion Coronagraphy. I. The Scientific Potential of Current and Next-generation Large Ground and Space Telescopes"
    Wang, Ji; Mawet, Dimitri; Ruane, Garreth; Hu, Renyu; Benneke, Björn

    Direct imaging of exoplanets presents a formidable technical challenge owing to the small angular separation and high contrast between exoplanets and their host stars. High Dispersion Coronagraphy (HDC) is a pathway to achieve unprecedented sensitivity to Earth-like planets in the habitable zone. Here, we present a framework to simulate HDC observations and data analyses. The goal of these simulations is to perform a detailed analysis of the trade-off between raw star light suppression and spectral resolution for various instrument configurations, target types, and science cases. We predict the performance of an HDC instrument at Keck observatory for characterizing directly imaged gas-giant planets in near-infrared bands. We also simulate HDC observations of an Earth-like planet using next-generation ground-based (TMT) and spaced-base telescopes (HabEx and LUVOIR). We conclude that ground-based ELTs are more suitable for HDC observations of an Earth-like planet than future space-based missions owing to the considerable difference in collecting area. For ground-based telescopes, HDC observations can detect an Earth-like planet in the habitable zone around an M-dwarf star at 10-4 star light suppression level. Compared to the 10-7 planet/star contrast, HDC relaxes the star light suppression requirement by a factor of 103. For space-based telescopes, detector noise will be a major limitation at spectral resolutions higher than 104. Considering detector noise and speckle chromatic noise, R = 400 (1600) is the optimal spectral resolutions for HabEx (LUVOIR). The corresponding star light suppression requirement to detect a planet with planet/star contrast = 6.1× {10}-11 is relaxed by a factor of 10 (100) for HabEx (LUVOIR).

  • 2017 - "Noise-weighted angular differential imaging"
    Bottom, Michael; Ruane, Garreth; Mawet, Dimitri;

    Angular differential imaging (ADI) (Marois et al. 2006) is an observational technique in high contrast imaging where the telescope is used in pupil tracking mode so that the image of the sky rotates with respect to the optical surfaces. Bright "speckle" light caused by optical errors remains fixed in the image, while planets and disks rotate with the sky. The resulting dataset is then post-processed to remove the speckles, de-rotated to undo the sky motion, and median-collapsed to create a final data product. The postprocessing algorithms to remove the speckles are an active area of research and beyond the scope of this note. We consider the derotation and median-combination, where we show gains in signal-to-noise ratio are possible with a small change to the algorithm.

  • 2017 - "Quantifying the Impact of Spectral Coverage on the Retrieval of Molecular Abundances from Exoplanet Transmission Spectra"
    Chapman, John W.; Zellem, Robert T.; Line, Michael R.; Vasisht, Gautam; Bryden, Geoff; Willacy, Karen; Iyer, Aishwarya R.; Bean, Jacob; Cowan, Nicolas B.; Fortney, Jonathan J.; Griffith, Caitlin A.; Kataria, Tiffany; Kempton, Eliza M.-R.; Kreidberg, Laura; Moses, Julianne I.; Stevenson, Kevin B.; Swain, Mark R.

    Using forward models for representative exoplanet atmospheres and a radiometric instrument model, we generated synthetic observational data to explore how well the major C- and O-bearing chemical species (CO, CO2, CH4, and H2O), important for determining atmospheric opacity and radiation balance, can be constrained by transit measurements as a function of spectral wavelength coverage. This work features simulations for a notional transit spectroscopy mission and compares two cases for instrument spectral coverage (wavelength coverage from 0.5-2.5 μm and 0.5-5 μm). The simulation is conducted on a grid with a range of stellar magnitudes and incorporates a full retrieval of atmospheric model parameters. We consider a range of planets from sub-Neptunes to hot Jupiters and include both low and high mean molecular weight atmospheres. We find that including the 2.5-5 μm wavelength range provides a significant improvement in the degree of constraint on the retrieved molecular abundances: up to ˜3 orders of magnitude for a low mean molecular weight atmosphere (μ = 2.3) and up to a factor of ˜6 for a high mean molecular weight atmosphere (μ = 28). These decreased uncertainties imply that broad spectral coverage between the visible and the mid-infrared is an important tool for understanding the chemistry and composition of exoplanet atmospheres. This analysis suggests that the James Webb Space Telescope's (JWST) Near-Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec) 0.6-5 μm prism spectroscopy mode, or similar wavelength coverage with possible future missions, will be an important resource for exoplanet atmospheric characterization.

  • 2017 - "Magnetically Induced Disk Winds and Transport in the HL Tau Disk"
    Hasegawa, Yasuhiro; Okuzumi, Satoshi; Flock, Mario; Turner, Neal J.

    The mechanism of angular momentum transport in protoplanetary disks is fundamental to understanding the distributions of gas and dust in the disks. The unprecedented ALMA observations taken toward HL Tau at high spatial resolution and subsequent radiative transfer modeling reveal that a high degree of dust settling is currently achieved in the outer part of the HL Tau disk. Previous observations, however, suggest a high disk accretion rate onto the central star. This configuration is not necessarily intuitive in the framework of the conventional viscous disk model, since efficient accretion generally requires a high level of turbulence, which can suppress dust settling considerably. We develop a simplified, semi-analytical disk model to examine under what condition these two properties can be realized in a single model. Recent, non-ideal MHD simulations are utilized to realistically model the angular momentum transport both radially via MHD turbulence and vertically via magnetically induced disk winds. We find that the HL Tau disk configuration can be reproduced well when disk winds are properly taken into account. While the resulting disk properties are likely consistent with other observational results, such an ideal situation can be established only if the plasma β at the disk midplane is β 0 ≃ 2 × 104 under the assumption of steady accretion. Equivalently, the vertical magnetic flux at 100 au is about 0.2 mG. More detailed modeling is needed to fully identify the origin of the disk accretion and quantitatively examine plausible mechanisms behind the observed gap structures in the HL Tau disk.

  • 2017 - "A concordant scenario to explain FU Orionis from deep centimeter and millimeter interferometric observations"
    Liu, Hauyu Baobab; Vorobyov, Eduard I.; Dong, Ruobing; Dunham, Michael M.; Takami, Michihiro; Galván-Madrid, Roberto; Hashimoto, Jun; Kóspál, Ágnes; Henning, Thomas; Tamura, Motohide; Rodríguez, Luis F.; Hirano, Naomi; Hasegawa, Yasuhiro; Fukagawa, Misato; Carrasco-Gonzalez, Carlos; Tazzari, Marco

    Aims: The aim of this work is to constrain properties of the disk around the archetype FU Orionis object, FU Ori, with as good as 25 au resolution.

    Methods: We resolved FU Ori at 29-37 GHz using the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (JVLA) in the A-array configuration, which provided the highest possible angular resolution to date at this frequency band ( 0.07 arcsec). We also performed complementary JVLA 8-10 GHz observations, Submillimeter Array (SMA) 224 GHz and 272 GHz observations, and compared these with archival Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) 346 GHz observations to obtain the spectral energy distributions (SEDs).

    Results: Our 8-10 GHz observations do not find evidence for the presence of thermal radio jets, and constrain the radio jet/wind flux to at least 90 times lower than the expected value from the previously reported bolometric luminosity-radio luminosity correlation. The emission at frequencies higher than 29 GHz may be dominated by the two spatially unresolved sources, which are located immediately around FU Ori and its companion FU Ori S, respectively. Their deconvolved radii at 33 GHz are only a few au, which is two orders of magnitude smaller in linear scale than the gaseous disk revealed by the previous Subaru-HiCIAO 1.6 μm coronagraphic polarization imaging observations. We are struck by the fact that these two spatially compact sources contribute to over 50% of the observed fluxes at 224 GHz, 272 GHz, and 346 GHz. The 8-346 GHz SEDs of FU Ori and FU Ori S cannot be fit by constant spectral indices (over frequency), although we cannot rule out that it is due to the time variability of their (sub)millimeter fluxes. Conclusions: The more sophisticated models for SEDs considering the details of the observed spectral indices in the millimeter bands suggest that the >29 GHz emission is contributed by a combination of free-free emission from ionized gas and thermal emission from optically thick and optically thin dust components. We hypothesize that dust in the innermost parts of the disks (≲0.1 au) has been sublimated, and thus the disks are no longer well shielded against the ionizing photons. The estimated overall gas and dust mass based on SED modeling, can be as high as a fraction of a solar mass, which is adequate for developing disk gravitational instability. Our present explanation for the observational data is that the massive inflow of gas and dust due to disk gravitational instability or interaction with a companion/intruder, was piled up at the few-au scale due to the development of a deadzone with negligible ionization. The piled up material subsequently triggered the thermal instability and the magnetorotational instability when the ionization fraction in the inner sub-au scale region exceeded a threshold value, leading to the high protostellar accretion rate.

  • 2017 - "Systematic Analysis of Spectral Energy Distributions and the Dust Opacity Indices for Class 0 Young Stellar Objects"
    Li, Jennifer I-Hsiu; Liu, Hauyu Baobab; Hasegawa, Yasuhiro; Hirano, Naomi

    We are motivated by the recent measurements of dust opacity indices (β) around young stellar objects (YSOs), which suggest that efficient grain growth may have occurred earlier than the Class I stage. The present work makes use of abundant archival interferometric observations at submillimeter, millimeter, and centimeter wavelength bands to examine grain growth signatures in the dense inner regions (<1000 au) of nine Class 0 YSOs. A systematic data analysis is performed to derive dust temperatures, optical depths, and dust opacity indices based on single-component modified blackbody fittings to the spectral energy distributions (SEDs). The fitted dust opacity indices (β) are in a wide range of 0.3-2.0 when single-component SED fitting is adopted. Four out of the nine observed sources show β lower than 1.7, the typical value of the interstellar dust. Low dust opacity index (or spectral index) values may be explained by the effect of dust grain growth, which makes β < 1.7. Alternatively, the very small observed values of β may be interpreted by the presence of deeply embedded and hot inner disks, which only significantly contribute to the observed fluxes at long wavelength bands. This possibility can be tested by the higher angular resolution imaging observations of ALMA or more detailed sampling of SEDs in the millimeter and centimeter bands. The β values of the remaining five sources are close to or consistent with 1.7, indicating that grain growth would start to significantly reduce the values of β no earlier than the late Class 0 stage for these YSOs.

  • 2017 - "The Shadow Knows: Using Shadows to Investigate the Structure of the Pretransitional Disk of HD 100453"
    Long, Zachary C.; Fernandes, Rachel B.; Sitko, Michael; Wagner, Kevin; Muto, Takayuki; Hashimoto, Jun; Follette, Katherine; Grady, Carol A.; Fukagawa, Misato; Hasegawa, Yasuhiro; Kluska, Jacques; Kraus, Stefan; Mayama, Satoshi; McElwain, Michael W.; Oh, Daehyon; Tamura, Motohide; Uyama, Taichi; Wisniewski, John P.; Yang, Yi

    We present Gemini Planet Imager polarized intensity imagery of HD 100453 in Y, J, and K1 bands that reveals an inner gap (9-18 au), an outer disk (18-39 au) with two prominent spiral arms, and two azimuthally localized dark features that are also present in Spectro-Polarimetric High-contrast Exoplanet REsearch (SPHERE) total intensity images. Spectral energy distribution fitting further suggests that the radial gap extends to 1 au. The narrow, wedge-like shape of the dark features appears similar to predictions of shadows cast by an inner disk that is misaligned with respect to the outer disk. Using the Monte Carlo radiative transfer code HOCHUNCK3D, we construct a model of the disk that allows us to determine its physical properties in more detail. From the angular separation of the features, we measure the difference in inclination between the disks (45°) and their major axes, PA = 140° east of north for the outer disk, and 100° for the inner disk. We find an outer-disk inclination of 25° ± 10° from face-on, in broad agreement with the Wagner et al. measurement of 34°. SPHERE data in J and H bands indicate a reddish disk, which indicates that HD 100453 is evolving into a young debris disk.

  • 2017 - "Chondrule Accretion with a Growing Protoplanet"
    Matsumoto, Yuji; Oshino, Shoichi; Hasegawa, Yasuhiro; Wakita, Shigeru

    Chondrules are primitive materials in the solar system. They were formed in about the first 3 Myr of the solar system's history. This timescale is longer than that of Mars formation, and it is conceivable that protoplanets, planetesimals, and chondrules might have existed simultaneously in the solar nebula. Due to protoplanets' perturbation on the planetesimal dynamics and chondrule accretion on them, all the formed chondrules are unlikely to be accreted by the planetesimals. We investigate the amount of chondrules accreted by planetesimals in such a condition. We assume that a protoplanet is in oligarchic growth, and we perform analytical calculations of chondrule accretion by both a protoplanet and planetesimals. Through the oligarchic growth stage, planetesimals accrete about half of the formed chondrules. The smallest planetesimals get the largest amount of chondrules, compared with the amount accreted by more massive planetesimals. We perform a parameter study and find that this fraction is not greatly changed for a wide range of parameter sets.

  • 2017 - "Effects of Grain Growth on Molecular Abundances in Young Stellar Objects"
    Harada, Nanase; Hasegawa, Yasuhiro; Aikawa, Yuri; Hirashita, Hiroyuki; Liu, Haoyu Baobab; Hirano, Naomi

    Recent observations suggested that the growth of dust grains may have already occurred in class 0/I young stellar objects (YSOs). Since chemical reactions on dust grain surfaces are important in determining molecular abundances, the dust size growth may affect chemical compositions in YSOs significantly. In this work, we aim to determine how grain growth affects chemical abundances. We use a time-dependent gas-grain chemical model for a star-forming core to calculate the gas-phase and grain-surface chemical abundances with variation of surface areas of grains to imitate grain growth. We also perform parameter studies in which the initial molecular abundances vary. Our results show that a smaller extent of the surface areas caused by grain growth changes the dominant form of sulfur-bearing molecules by decreasing H2S abundances and increasing SO and/or SO2 abundances. We also find that complex organic molecules such as CH3CN decrease in abundances with larger grain sizes, while the abundance of other species such as CH3OCH3 is dependent on other parameters such as the initial conditions. Comparisons with observations of a class 0 protostar, IRAS 16293-2422, indicate that the observed abundance ratios between sulfur-bearing molecules H2S, SO, and SO2 can be reproduced very well when dust grains grow to a maximum grain size of a max = 10-100 μm.

  • 2017 - "Diffusion of Oxygen Isotopes in Thermally Evolving Planetesimals and Size Ranges of Presolar Silicate Grains"
    Wakita, Shigeru; Nozawa, Takaya; Hasegawa, Yasuhiro

    Presolar grains are small particles found in meteorites through their isotopic compositions, which are considerably different from those of materials in the solar system. If some isotopes in presolar grains diffused out beyond their grain sizes when they were embedded in parent bodies of meteorites, their isotopic compositions could be washed out, and hence the grains could no longer be identified as presolar grains. We explore this possibility for the first time by self-consistently simulating the thermal evolution of planetesimals and the diffusion length of 18O in presolar silicate grains. Our results show that presolar silicate grains smaller than ˜0.03 μm cannot keep their original isotopic compositions even if the host planetesimals experienced a maximum temperature as low as 600 °C. Since this temperature corresponds to that experienced by petrologic type 3 chondrites, isotopic diffusion can constrain the size of presolar silicate grains discovered in such chondrites to be larger than ˜0.03 μm. We also find that the diffusion length of 18O reaches ˜0.3-2 μm in planetesimals that were heated up to 700-800°C. This indicates that, if the original size of presolar grains spans a range from ˜0.001 μm to ˜0.3 μm like that in the interstellar medium, then the isotopic records of the presolar grains may be almost completely lost in such highly thermalized parent bodies. We propose that isotopic diffusion could be a key process to control the size distribution and abundance of presolar grains in some types of chondrites.

  • 2017 - "Planetesimal Collisions as a Chondrule Forming Event"
    Wakita, Shigeru; Matsumoto, Yuji; Oshino, Shoichi; Hasegawa, Yasuhiro

    Chondritic meteorites contain unique spherical materials named chondrules: sub-mm sized silicate grains once melted in a high temperature condition in the solar nebula. We numerically explore one of the chondrule forming processes-planetesimal collisions. Previous studies have found that impact jetting via protoplanet-planetesimal collisions can make chondrules with 1% of the impactors' mass, when the impact velocity exceeds 2.5 km s-1. Based on the mineralogical data of chondrules, undifferentiated planetesimals would be more suitable for chondrule-forming collisions than potentially differentiated protoplanets. We examine planetesimal-planetesimal collisions using a shock physics code and find two things: one is that planetesimal-planetesimal collisions produce nearly the same amount of chondrules as protoplanet-planetesimal collisions (˜1%). The other is that the amount of produced chondrules becomes larger as the impact velocity increases when two planetesimals collide with each other. We also find that progenitors of chondrules can originate from deeper regions of large targets (planetesimals or protoplanets) than small impactors (planetesimals). The composition of targets is therefore important, to fully account for the mineralogical data of currently sampled chondrules.

  • 2017 - "The Science Case for an Extended Spitzer Mission"
    Yee, Jennifer C.; Fazio, Giovanni G.; Benjamin, Robert; Kirkpatrick, J. Davy; Malkan, Matt A.; Trilling, David; Carey, Sean; Ciardi, David R.; Apai, Daniel; Ashby, M. L. N.; Ballard, Sarah; Bean, Jacob L.; Beatty, Thomas; Berta-Thompson, Zach; Capak, P.; Charbonneau, David; Chesley, Steven; Cowan, Nicolas B.; Crossfield, Ian; Cushing, Michael C.; de Wit, Julien; Deming, Drake; Dickinson, M.; Dittmann, Jason; Dragomir, Diana; Dressing, Courtney; Emery, Joshua; Faherty, Jacqueline K.; Gagne, Jonathan; Gaudi, B. Scott; Gillon, Michael; Grillmair, Carl J.; Harris, Alan; Hora, Joseph; Ingalls, James G.; Kataria, Tiffany; Kreidberg, Laura; Krick, Jessica E.; Lowrance, Patrick J.; Mahoney, William A.; Metchev, Stanimir A.; Mommert, Michael; Migo Mueller, Michael; Shvartzvald, Yossi; Smith, Howard; Stevenson, Kevin B.; Teplitz, H. I.; Willner, S. P.

    Although the final observations of the Spitzer Warm Mission are currently scheduled for March 2019, it can continue operations through the end of the decade with no loss of photometric precision. As we will show, there is a strong science case for extending the current Warm Mission to December 2020. Spitzer has already made major impacts in the fields of exoplanets (including microlensing events), characterizing near Earth objects, enhancing our knowledge of nearby stars and brown dwarfs, understanding the properties and structure of our Milky Way galaxy, and deep wide-field extragalactic surveys to study galaxy birth and evolution. By extending Spitzer through 2020, it can continue to make ground-breaking discoveries in those fields, and provide crucial support to the NASA flagship missions JWST and WFIRST, as well as the upcoming TESS mission, and it will complement ground-based observations by LSST and the new large telescopes of the next decade. This scientific program addresses NASA's Science Mission Directive's objectives in astrophysics, which include discovering how the universe works, exploring how it began and evolved, and searching for life on planets around other stars.

  • 2017 - "The Very Low Albedo of WASP-12b from Spectral Eclipse Observations with Hubble"
    Bell, Taylor J.; Nikolov, Nikolay; Cowan, Nicolas B.; Barstow, Joanna K.; Barman, Travis S.; Crossfield, Ian J. M.; Gibson, Neale P.; Evans, Thomas M.; Sing, David K.; Knutson, Heather A.; Kataria, Tiffany; Lothringer, Joshua D.; Benneke, Björn; Schwartz, Joel C.

    We present an optical eclipse observation of the hot Jupiter WASP-12b using the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph on board the Hubble Space Telescope. These spectra allow us to place an upper limit of {A}g< 0.064 (97.5% confidence level) on the planet's white light geometric albedo across 290-570 nm. Using six wavelength bins across the same wavelength range also produces stringent limits on the geometric albedo for all bins. However, our uncertainties in eclipse depth are ˜40% greater than the Poisson limit and may be limited by the intrinsic variability of the Sun-like host star-the solar luminosity is known to vary at the 10-4 level on a timescale of minutes. We use our eclipse depth limits to test two previously suggested atmospheric models for this planet: Mie scattering from an aluminum-oxide haze or cloud-free Rayleigh scattering. Our stringent nondetection rules out both models and is consistent with thermal emission plus weak Rayleigh scattering from atomic hydrogen and helium. Our results are in stark contrast with those for the much cooler HD 189733b, the only other hot Jupiter with spectrally resolved reflected light observations; those data showed an increase in albedo with decreasing wavelength. The fact that the first two exoplanets with optical albedo spectra exhibit significant differences demonstrates the importance of spectrally resolved reflected light observations and highlights the great diversity among hot Jupiters.

  • 2017 - "An ultrahot gas-giant exoplanet with a stratosphere"
    Evans, Thomas M.; Sing, David K.; Kataria, Tiffany; Goyal, Jayesh; Nikolov, Nikolay; Wakeford, Hannah R.; Deming, Drake; Marley, Mark S.; Amundsen, David S.; Ballester, Gilda E.; Barstow, Joanna K.; Ben-Jaffel, Lotfi; Bourrier, Vincent; Buchhave, Lars A.; Cohen, Ofer; Ehrenreich, David; García Muñoz, Antonio; Henry, Gregory W.; Knutson, Heather; Lavvas, Panayotis; Lecavelier Des Etangs, Alain; Lewis, Nikole K.; López-Morales, Mercedes; Mandell, Avi M.; Sanz-Forcada, Jorge; Tremblin, Pascal; Lupu, Roxana

    Infrared radiation emitted from a planet contains information about the chemical composition and vertical temperature profile of its atmosphere. If upper layers are cooler than lower layers, molecular gases will produce absorption features in the planetary thermal spectrum. Conversely, if there is a stratosphere-where temperature increases with altitude-these molecular features will be observed in emission. It has been suggested that stratospheres could form in highly irradiated exoplanets, but the extent to which this occurs is unresolved both theoretically and observationally. A previous claim for the presence of a stratosphere remains open to question, owing to the challenges posed by the highly variable host star and the low spectral resolution of the measurements. Here we report a near-infrared thermal spectrum for the ultrahot gas giant WASP-121b, which has an equilibrium temperature of approximately 2,500 kelvin. Water is resolved in emission, providing a detection of an exoplanet stratosphere at 5σ confidence. These observations imply that a substantial fraction of incident stellar radiation is retained at high altitudes in the atmosphere, possibly by absorbing chemical species such as gaseous vanadium oxide and titanium oxide.

  • 2017 - "VLT/FORS2 comparative transmission spectroscopy II: Confirmation of a cloud deck and Rayleigh scattering in WASP-31b, but no potassium"
    Gibson, Neale P.; Nikolov, Nikolay; Sing, David K.; Barstow, Joanna K.; Evans, Thomas M.; Kataria, Tiffany; Wilson, Paul A.

    We present transmission spectroscopy of the hot-Jupiter WASP-31b using the FOcal Reducer and low dispersion Spectrograph 2 (FORS2) on the Very Large Telescope during two primary transits. The observations cover a wavelength range of ≈400-840 nm. The light curves are corrupted by significant systematics, but these were to first-order invariant with wavelength and could be removed using a common-mode correction derived from the white light curves. We reach a precision in the transit depth of ≈140 ppm in 15 nm bins, although the precision varies significantly over the wavelength range. Our FORS2 observations confirm the cloud deck previously inferred using Hubble Space Telescope (HST)/Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS). We also re-analyse the HST/STIS data using a Gaussian process model, finding excellent agreement with earlier measurements. We reproduce the Rayleigh scattering signature at short wavelengths (≲5300 Å) and the cloud deck at longer wavelengths. However, our FORS2 observations appear to rule out the large potassium feature previously detected using STIS, yet it is recovered from the HST/STIS data, although with reduced amplitude and significance (≈2.5σ). The discrepancy between our results and the earlier STIS detection of potassium (≈4.3σ) is either a result of telluric contamination of the ground-based observations, or an underestimate of the uncertainties for narrow-band features in HST/STIS when using linear basis models to account for the systematics. Our results further demonstrate the use of ground-based multi-object spectrographs for the study of exoplanet atmospheres, and highlight the need for caution in our interpretation of narrow-band features in low-resolution spectra of hot Jupiters.

  • 2017 - "Atmospheric Circulation and Cloud Evolution on the Highly Eccentric Extrasolar Planet HD 80606b"
    Lewis, N. K.; Parmentier, V.; Kataria, T.; de Wit, J.; Showman, A. P.; Fortney, J. J.; Marley, M. S.

    Observations of the highly-eccentric (e~0.9) hot-Jupiter HD 80606b with Spitzer have provided some of best probes of the physics at work in exoplanet atmospheres. By observing HD 80606b during its periapse passage, atmospheric radiative, advective, and chemical timescales can be directly measured and used to constrain fundamental planetary properties such as rotation period, tidal dissipation rate, and atmospheric composition (including aerosols). Here we present three-dimensional general circulation models for HD 80606b that aim to further explore the atmospheric physics shaping HD 80606b's observed Spitzer phase curves. We find that our models that assume a planetary rotation period twice that of the pseudo-synchronous rotation period best reproduce the phase variations observed for HD~80606b near periapse passage with Spitzer. Additionally, we find that the rapid formation/dissipation and vertical transport of clouds in HD 80606b's atmosphere near periapse passage likely shapes its observed phase variations. We predict that observations near periapse passage at visible wavelengths could constrain the composition and formation/advection timescales of the dominant cloud species in HD 80606b's atmosphere. The time-variable forcing experienced by exoplanets on eccentric orbits provides a unique and important window on radiative, dynamical, and chemical processes in planetary atmospheres and an important link between exoplanet observations and theory.

  • 2017 - "HAT-P-26b: A Neptune-mass exoplanet with a well-constrained heavy element abundance"
    Wakeford, Hannah R.; Sing, David K.; Kataria, Tiffany; Deming, Drake; Nikolov, Nikolay; Lopez, Eric D.; Tremblin, Pascal; Amundsen, David S.; Lewis, Nikole K.; Mandell, Avi M.; Fortney, Jonathan J.; Knutson, Heather; Benneke, Björn; Evans, Thomas M.

    A correlation between giant-planet mass and atmospheric heavy elemental abundance was first noted in the past century from observations of planets in our own Solar System and has served as a cornerstone of planet-formation theory. Using data from the Hubble and Spitzer Space Telescopes from 0.5 to 5 micrometers, we conducted a detailed atmospheric study of the transiting Neptune-mass exoplanet HAT-P-26b. We detected prominent H2O absorption bands with a maximum base-to-peak amplitude of 525 parts per million in the transmission spectrum. Using the water abundance as a proxy for metallicity, we measured HAT-P-26b's atmospheric heavy element content (4.8-4.0+21.5 times solar). This likely indicates that HAT-P-26b's atmosphere is primordial and obtained its gaseous envelope late in its disk lifetime, with little contamination from metal-rich planetesimals.

  • 2017 - "High-temperature condensate clouds in super-hot Jupiter atmospheres"
    Wakeford, H. R.; Visscher, C.; Lewis, N. K.; Kataria, T.; Marley, M. S.; Fortney, J. J.; Mandell, A. M.

    Deciphering the role of clouds is central to our understanding of exoplanet atmospheres, as they have a direct impact on the temperature and pressure structure, and observational properties of the planet. Super-hot Jupiters occupy a temperature regime similar to low-mass M-dwarfs, where minimal cloud condensation is expected. However, observations of exoplanets such as WASP-12b (Teq ˜ 2500 K) result in a transmission spectrum indicative of a cloudy atmosphere. We re-examine the temperature and pressure space occupied by these super-hot Jupiter atmospheres, to explore the role of the initial Al- and Ti-bearing condensates as the main source of cloud material. Due to the high temperatures, a majority of the more common refractory material is not depleted into deeper layers and would remain in the vapour phase. The lack of depletion into deeper layers means that these materials with relatively low cloud masses can become significant absorbers in the upper atmosphere. We provide condensation curves for the initial Al- and Ti-bearing condensates which may be used to provide quantitative estimates of the effect of metallicity on cloud masses, as planets with metal-rich hosts potentially form more opaque clouds because more mass is available for condensation. Increased metallicity also pushes the point of condensation to hotter, deeper layers in the planetary atmosphere further increasing the density of the cloud. We suggest that planets around metal-rich hosts are more likely to have thick refractory clouds, and discuss the implication on the observed spectra of WASP-12b.

  • 2017 - "Spitzer Phase Curve Constraints for WASP-43b at 3.6 and 4.5 μm"
    Stevenson, Kevin B.; Line, Michael R.; Bean, Jacob L.; Désert, Jean-Michel; Fortney, Jonathan J.; Showman, Adam P.; Kataria, Tiffany; Kreidberg, Laura; Feng, Y. Katherina

    Previous measurements of heat redistribution efficiency (the ability to transport energy from a planet's highly irradiated dayside to its eternally dark nightside) show considerable variation between exoplanets. Theoretical models predict a positive correlation between heat redistribution efficiency and temperature for tidally locked planets; however, recent Hubble Space Telescope (HST) WASP-43b spectroscopic phase curve results are inconsistent with current predictions. Using the Spitzer Space Telescope, we obtained a total of three phase curve observations of WASP-43b (P = 0.813 days) at 3.6 and 4.5 μm. The first 3.6 μm visit exhibits spurious nightside emission that requires invoking unphysical conditions in our cloud-free atmospheric retrievals. The two other visits exhibit strong day-night contrasts that are consistent with the HST data. To reconcile the departure from theoretical predictions, WASP-43b would need to have a high-altitude, nightside cloud/haze layer blocking its thermal emission. Clouds/hazes could be produced within the planet's cool, nearly retrograde mid-latitude flows before dispersing across its nightside at high altitudes. Since mid-latitude flows only materialize in fast-rotating (≲ 1 day) planets, this may explain an observed trend connecting measured day-night contrast with planet rotation rate that matches all current Spitzer phase curve results. Combining independent planetary emission measurements from multiple phases, we obtain a precise dayside hemisphere H2O abundance (2.5× {10}-5{--}1.1× {10}-4 at 1σ confidence) and, assuming chemical equilibrium and a scaled solar abundance pattern, we derive a corresponding metallicity estimate that is consistent with being solar (0.4-1.7). Using the retrieved global CO+CO2 abundance under the same assumptions, we estimate a comparable metallicity of 0.3-1.7× solar. This is the first time that precise abundance and metallicity constraints have been determined from multiple molecular tracers for a transiting exoplanet.

  • 2017 - "HST PanCET program: A Cloudy Atmosphere for the Promising JWST Target WASP-101b"
    Wakeford, H. R.; Stevenson, K. B.; Lewis, N. K.; Sing, D. K.; López-Morales, M.; Marley, M.; Kataria, T.; Mandell, A.; Ballester, G. E.; Barstow, J.; Ben-Jaffel, L.; Bourrier, V.; Buchhave, L. A.; Ehrenreich, D.; Evans, T.; García Muñoz, A.; Henry, G.; Knutson, H.; Lavvas, P.; Lecavelier des Etangs, A.; Nikolov, N.; Sanz-Forcada, J.

    We present results from the first observations of the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) Panchromatic Comparative Exoplanet Treasury program for WASP-101b, a highly inflated hot Jupiter and one of the community targets proposed for the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) Early Release Science (ERS) program. From a single HST Wide Field Camera 3 observation, we find that the near-infrared transmission spectrum of WASP-101b contains no significant H2O absorption features and we rule out a clear atmosphere at 13σ. Therefore, WASP-101b is not an optimum target for a JWST ERS program aimed at observing strong molecular transmission features. We compare WASP-101b to the well-studied and nearly identical hot Jupiter WASP-31b. These twin planets show similar temperature-pressure profiles and atmospheric features in the near-infrared. We suggest exoplanets in the same parameter space as WASP-101b and WASP-31b will also exhibit cloudy transmission spectral features. For future HST exoplanet studies, our analysis also suggests that a lower count limit needs to be exceeded per pixel on the detector in order to avoid unwanted instrumental systematics.

  • 2017 - "Spitzer Secondary Eclipse Depths with Multiple Intrapixel Sensitivity Correction Methods Observations of WASP-13b, WASP-15b, WASP-16b, WASP-62b, and HAT-P-22b"
    Kilpatrick, Brian M.; Lewis, Nikole K.; Kataria, Tiffany; Deming, Drake; Ingalls, James G.; Krick, Jessica E.; Tucker, Gregory S.

    We measure the 4.5 μm thermal emission of five transiting hot Jupiters, WASP-13b, WASP-15b, WASP-16b, WASP-62b, and HAT-P-22b using channel 2 of the Infrared Array Camera (IRAC) on the Spitzer Space Telescope. Significant intrapixel sensitivity variations in Spitzer IRAC data require careful correction in order to achieve precision on the order of several hundred parts per million (ppm) for the measurement of exoplanet secondary eclipses. We determine eclipse depths by first correcting the raw data using three independent data reduction methods. The Pixel Gain Map (PMAP), Nearest Neighbors (NNBR), and Pixel Level Decorrelation (PLD) each correct for the intrapixel sensitivity effect in Spitzer photometric time-series observations. The results from each methodology are compared against each other to establish if they reach a statistically equivalent result in every case and to evaluate their ability to minimize uncertainty in the measurement. We find that all three methods produce reliable results. For every planet examined here NNBR and PLD produce results that are in statistical agreement. However, the PMAP method appears to produce results in slight disagreement in cases where the stellar centroid is not kept consistently on the most well characterized area of the detector. We evaluate the ability of each method to reduce the scatter in the residuals as well as in the correlated noise in the corrected data. The NNBR and PLD methods consistently minimize both white and red noise levels and should be considered reliable and consistent. The planets in this study span equilibrium temperatures from 1100 to 2000 K and have brightness temperatures that require either high albedo or efficient recirculation. However, it is possible that other processes such as clouds or disequilibrium chemistry may also be responsible for producing these brightness temperatures.

  • 2017 - "A Direct Imaging Survey of Spitzer-detected Debris Disks: Occurrence of Giant Planets in Dusty Systems"
    Meshkat, Tiffany; Mawet, Dimitri; Bryan, Marta L.; Hinkley, Sasha; Bowler, Brendan P.; Stapelfeldt, Karl R.; Batygin, Konstantin; Padgett, Deborah; Morales, Farisa Y.; Serabyn, Eugene; Christiaens, Valentin; Brandt, Timothy D.; Wahhaj, Zahed

    We describe a joint high-contrast imaging survey for planets at the Keck and Very Large Telescope of the last large sample of debris disks identified by the Spitzer Space Telescope. No new substellar companions were discovered in our survey of 30 Spitzer-selected targets. We combine our observations with data from four published surveys to place constraints on the frequency of planets around 130 debris disk single stars, the largest sample to date. For a control sample, we assembled contrast curves from several published surveys targeting 277 stars that do not show infrared excesses. We assumed a double power-law distribution in mass and semimajor axis (SMA) of the form f(m,a)={{Cm}}α {a}β , where we adopted power-law values and logarithmically flat values for the mass and SMA of planets. We find that the frequency of giant planets with masses 5-20 M Jup and separations 10-1000 au around stars with debris disks is 6.27% (68% confidence interval 3.68%-9.76%), compared to 0.73% (68% confidence interval 0.20%-1.80%) for the control sample of stars without disks. These distributions differ at the 88% confidence level, tentatively suggesting distinctness of these samples. Some of the data presented herein were obtained at the W.M. Keck Observatory, which is operated as a scientific partnership among the California Institute of Technology, the University of California and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Observatory was made possible by the generous financial support of the W.M. Keck Foundation.

  • 2017 - "The Habitability of Icy Worlds in the Solar System"
    Steven D. Vance

    Multiple icy oceanic worlds exist in the solar system, with global inventories of liquid water often exceeding those on Earth. They may create conditions amenable to life, despite an absence of continents and the possibility for high pressure ices covering their rocky seafloors. Exploration of ocean worlds in the solar system offers the chance to anticipate what features of habitability to look for on watery exoworlds.

  • 2017 - "Forecasting the Impact of Stellar Activity on Transiting Exoplanet Spectra"
    Zellem, Robert T.; Swain, Mark R.; Roudier, Gael; Shkolnik, Evgenya L.; Creech-Eakman, Michelle J.; Ciardi, David R.; Line, Michael R.; Iyer, Aishwarya R.; Bryden, Geoffrey; Llama, Joe; Fahy, Kristen A.

    We predict the impact of stellar variability on transit observations. Supplementing these forecasts with Kepler-measured stellar variabilities for F-, G-, K-, and M-dwarfs, and predicted transit precisions by the James Webb Space Telescope's (JWST) NIRISS, NIRCam, and MIRI, we conclude that stellar activity does not impact infrared transiting exoplanet observations of most presently known or predicted TESS targets by current or near-future platforms, such as JWST, as activity-induced spectral changes are below the measurement precision.

  • Papers Published in 2016

  • 2016 - "Hypotheses for Near-Surface Exchange of Methane on Mars"
    Hu, Renyu; Bloom, A. Anthony; Gao, Peter; Miller, Charles E.; Yung, Yuk L.

    The Curiosity rover recently detected a background of 0.7 ppb and spikes of 7 ppb of methane on Mars. This in situ measurement reorients our understanding of the martian environment and its potential for life, as the current theories do not entail any geological source or sink of methane that varies sub-annually. In particular, the 10-fold elevation during the southern winter indicates episodic sources of methane that are yet to be discovered. Here we suggest a near-surface reservoir could explain this variability. Using the temperature and humidity measurements from the rover, we find that perchlorate salts in the regolith deliquesce to form liquid solutions, and deliquescence progresses to deeper subsurface in the season of the methane spikes. We therefore formulate the following three testable hypotheses. The first scenario is that the regolith in Gale Crater adsorbs methane when dry and releases this methane to the atmosphere upon deliquescence. The adsorption energy needs to be 36 kJ mol-1 to explain the magnitude of the methane spikes, higher than existing laboratory measurements. The second scenario is that microorganisms convert organic matter in the soil to methane when they are in liquid solutions. This scenario does not require regolith adsorption but entails extant life on Mars. The third scenario is that deep subsurface aquifers produce the bursts of methane. Continued in situ measurements of methane and water, as well as laboratory studies of adsorption and deliquescence, will test these hypotheses and inform the existence of the near-surface reservoir and its exchange with the atmosphere.

  • 2016 - "Transiting Exoplanet Studies and Community Targets for JWST's Early Release Science Program"
    Stevenson, Kevin B.; Lewis, Nikole K.; Bean, Jacob L.; Beichman, Charles; Fraine, Jonathan; Kilpatrick, Brian M.; Krick, J. E.; Lothringer, Joshua D.; Mandell, Avi M.; Valenti, Jeff A.; Agol, Eric; Angerhausen, Daniel; Barstow, Joanna K.; Birkmann, Stephan M.; Burrows, Adam; Charbonneau, David; Cowan, Nicolas B.; Crouzet, Nicolas; Cubillos, Patricio E.; Curry, S. M.; Dalba, Paul A.; de Wit, Julien; Deming, Drake; Désert, Jean-Michel; Doyon, René; Dragomir, Diana; Ehrenreich, David; Fortney, Jonathan J.; García Muñoz, Antonio; Gibson, Neale P.; Gizis, John E.; Greene, Thomas P.; Harrington, Joseph; Heng, Kevin; Kataria, Tiffany; Kempton, Eliza M.-R.; Knutson, Heather; Kreidberg, Laura; Lafrenière, David; Lagage, Pierre-Olivier; Line, Michael R.; Lopez-Morales, Mercedes; Madhusudhan, Nikku; Morley, Caroline V.; Rocchetto, Marco; Schlawin, Everett; Shkolnik, Evgenya L.; Shporer, Avi; Sing, David K.; Todorov, Kamen O.; Tucker, Gregory S.; Wakeford, Hannah R.

    The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) will likely revolutionize transiting exoplanet atmospheric science, due to a combination of its capability for continuous, long duration observations and its larger collecting area, spectral coverage, and spectral resolution compared to existing space-based facilities. However, it is unclear precisely how well JWST will perform and which of its myriad instruments and observing modes will be best suited for transiting exoplanet studies. In this article, we describe a prefatory JWST Early Release Science (ERS) Cycle 1 program that focuses on testing specific observing modes to quickly give the community the data and experience it needs to plan more efficient and successful transiting exoplanet characterization programs in later cycles. We propose a multi-pronged approach wherein one aspect of the program focuses on observing transits of a single target with all of the recommended observing modes to identify and understand potential systematics, compare transmission spectra at overlapping and neighboring wavelength regions, confirm throughputs, and determine overall performances. In our search for transiting exoplanets that are well suited to achieving these goals, we identify 12 objects (dubbed "community targets") that meet our defined criteria. Currently, the most favorable target is WASP-62b because of its large predicted signal size, relatively bright host star, and location in JWST's continuous viewing zone. Since most of the community targets do not have well-characterized atmospheres, we recommend initiating preparatory observing programs to determine the presence of obscuring clouds/hazes within their atmospheres. Measurable spectroscopic features are needed to establish the optimal resolution and wavelength regions for exoplanet characterization. Other initiatives from our proposed ERS program include testing the instrument brightness limits and performing phase-curve observations. The latter are a unique challenge compared to transit observations because of their significantly longer durations. Using only a single mode, we propose to observe a full-orbit phase curve of one of the previously characterized, short-orbital-period planets to evaluate the facility-level aspects of long, uninterrupted time-series observations.

  • 2016 - "The sustainability of habitability on terrestrial planets: Insights, questions, and needed measurements from Mars for understanding the evolution of Earth-like worlds"
    Ehlmann, B. L.; Anderson, F. S.; Andrews-Hanna, J.; Catling, D. C.; Christensen, P. R.; Cohen, B. A.; Dressing, C. D.; Edwards, C. S.; Elkins-Tanton, L. T.; Farley, K. A.; Fassett, C. I.; Fischer, W. W.; Fraeman, A. A.; Golombek, M. P.; Hamilton, V. E.; Hayes, A. G.; Herd, C. D. K.; Horgan, B.; Hu, R.; Jakosky, B. M.; Johnson, J. R.; Kasting, J. F.; Kerber, L.; Kinch, K. M.; Kite, E. S.; Knutson, H. A.; Lunine, J. I.; Mahaffy, P. R.; Mangold, N.; McCubbin, F. M.; Mustard, J. F.; Niles, P. B.; Quantin-Nataf, C.; Rice, M. S.; Stack, K. M.; Stevenson, D. J.; Stewart, S. T.; Toplis, M. J.; Usui, T.; Weiss, B. P.; Werner, S. C.; Wordsworth, R. D.; Wray, J. J.; Yingst, R. A.; Yung, Y. L.; Zahnle, K. J.

    What allows a planet to be both within a potentially habitable zone and sustain habitability over long geologic time? With the advent of exoplanetary astronomy and the ongoing discovery of terrestrial-type planets around other stars, our own solar system becomes a key testing ground for ideas about what factors control planetary evolution. Mars provides the solar system's longest record of the interplay of the physical and chemical processes relevant to habitability on an accessible rocky planet with an atmosphere and hydrosphere. Here we review current understanding and update the timeline of key processes in early Mars history. We then draw on knowledge of exoplanets and the other solar system terrestrial planets to identify six broad questions of high importance to the development and sustaining of habitability (unprioritized): (1) Is small planetary size fatal? (2) How do magnetic fields influence atmospheric evolution? (3) To what extent does starting composition dictate subsequent evolution, including redox processes and the availability of water and organics? (4) Does early impact bombardment have a net deleterious or beneficial influence? (5) How do planetary climates respond to stellar evolution, e.g., sustaining early liquid water in spite of a faint young Sun? (6) How important are the timescales of climate forcing and their dynamical drivers? Finally, we suggest crucial types of Mars measurements (unprioritized) to address these questions: (1) in situ petrology at multiple units/sites; (2) continued quantification of volatile reservoirs and new isotopic measurements of H, C, N, O, S, Cl, and noble gases in rocks that sample multiple stratigraphic sections; (3) radiometric age dating of units in stratigraphic sections and from key volcanic and impact units; (4) higher-resolution measurements of heat flux, subsurface structure, and magnetic field anomalies coupled with absolute age dating. Understanding the evolution of early Mars will feed forward to understanding the factors driving the divergent evolutionary paths of the Earth, Venus, and thousands of small rocky extrasolar planets yet to be discovered.

  • 2016 - "Spiral Structure and Differential Dust Size Distribution in the LKHα 330 Disk"
    Akiyama, Eiji; Hashimoto, Jun; Liu, Hauyu Baobab; Li, Jennifer I-Hsiu; Bonnefoy, Michael; Dong, Ruobing; Hasegawa, Yasuhiro; Henning, Thomas; Sitko, Michael L.; Janson, Markus; Feldt, Markus; Wisniewski, John; Kudo, Tomoyuki; Kusakabe, Nobuhiko; Tsukagoshi, Takashi; Momose, Munetake; Muto, Takayuki; Taki, Tetsuo; Kuzuhara, Masayuki; Satoshi, Mayama; Takami, Michihiro; Ohashi, Nagayoshi; Grady, Carol A.; Kwon, Jungmi; Thalmann, Christian; Abe, Lyu; Brandner, Wolfgang; Brandt, Timothy D.; Carson, Joseph C.; Egner, Sebastian; Goto, Miwa; Guyon, Olivier; Hayano, Yutaka; Hayashi, Masahiko; Hayashi, Saeko S.; Hodapp, Klaus W.; Ishii, Miki; Iye, Masanori; Knapp, Gillian R.; Kandori, Ryo; Matsuo, Taro; Mcelwain, Michael W.; Miyama, Shoken; Morino, Jun-Ichi; Moro-Martin, Amaya; Nishimura, Tetsuo; Pyo, Tae-Soo; Serabyn, Eugene; Suenaga, Takuya; Suto, Hiroshi; Suzuki, Ryuji; Takahashi, Yasuhiro H.; Takato, Naruhisa; Terada, Hiroshi; Tomono, Daigo; Turner, Edwin L.; Watanabe, Makoto; Yamada, Toru; Takami, Hideki; Usuda, Tomonori; Tamura, Motohide

    Dust trapping accelerates the coagulation of dust particles, and, thus, it represents an initial step toward the formation of planetesimals. We report H-band (1.6 μm) linear polarimetric observations and 0.87 mm interferometric continuum observations toward a transitional disk around LkHα 330. As a result, a pair of spiral arms were detected in the H-band emission, and an asymmetric (potentially arm-like) structure was detected in the 0.87 mm continuum emission. We discuss the origin of the spiral arm and the asymmetric structure and suggest that a massive unseen planet is the most plausible explanation. The possibility of dust trapping and grain growth causing the asymmetric structure was also investigated through the opacity index (β) by plotting the observed spectral energy distribution slope between 0.87 mm from our Submillimeter Array observation and 1.3 mm from literature. The results imply that grains are indistinguishable from interstellar medium-like dust in the east side (β =2.0+/- 0.5) but are much smaller in the west side β ={0.7}-0.4+0.5, indicating differential dust size distribution between the two sides of the disk. Combining the results of near-infrared and submillimeter observations, we conjecture that the spiral arms exist at the upper surface and an asymmetric structure resides in the disk interior. Future observations at centimeter wavelengths and differential polarization imaging in other bands (Y-K) with extreme AO imagers are required to understand how large dust grains form and to further explore the dust distribution in the disk.

  • 2016 - "Super-Earths as Failed Cores in Orbital Migration Traps"
    Hasegawa, Yasuhiro

    I explore whether close-in super-Earths were formed as rocky bodies that failed to grow fast enough to become the cores of gas giants before the natal protostellar disk dispersed. I model the failed cores' inward orbital migration in the low-mass or type I regime to stopping points at distances where the tidal interaction with the protostellar disk applies zero net torque. The three kinds of migration traps considered are those due to the dead zone's outer edge, the ice line, and the transition from accretion to starlight as the disk's main heat source. As the disk disperses, the traps move toward final positions near or just outside 1 au. Planets at this location exceeding about 3 M ⊕ open a gap, decouple from their host traps, and migrate inward in the high-mass or type II regime to reach the vicinity of the star. I synthesize the population of planets that formed in this scenario, finding that a fraction of the observed super-Earths could have been failed cores. Most super-Earths that formed this way have more than 4 M ⊕, so their orbits when the disks dispersed were governed by type II migration. These planets have solid cores surrounded by gaseous envelopes. Their subsequent photoevaporative mass loss is most effective for masses originally below about 6 M ⊕. The failed core scenario suggests a division of the observed super-Earth mass-radius diagram into five zones according to the inferred formation history.

  • 2016 - "Detection of Linearly Polarized 6.9 mm Continuum Emission from the Class 0 Young Stellar Object NGC 1333 IRAS4A"
    Liu, Hauyu Baobab; Lai, Shih-Ping; Hasegawa, Yasuhiro; Hirano, Naomi; Rao, Ramprasad; Li, I.-Hsiu; Fukagawa, Misato; Girart, Josep M.; Carrasco-González, Carlos; Rodríguez, Luis F.

    Dust growth, a first step of planet formation, can change the mass and the shape of dust grains. The detection of linearly polarized dust continuum emission at 6.9 mm can serve as a probe of how dust shape evolves, following dust growth. We demonstrate this possibility by reporting new JVLA, high angular resolution observations toward a Class 0 YSO.

  • 2016 - "Forming Chondrites in a Solar Nebula with Magnetically Induced Turbulence"
    Hasegawa, Yasuhiro; Turner, Neal J.; Masiero, Joseph; Wakita, Shigeru; Matsumoto, Yuji; Oshino, Shoichi

    Chondritic meteorites provide valuable opportunities to investigate the origins of the solar system. We identify under what conditions chondrule formation and accretion can be realized in the solar nebula, making use of the currently available meteoritic date. The data include the present asteroid belt mass, the formation timescale of chondrules, the magnetic field strength of the nebula derived from chondrules in Semarkona.

  • 2016 - "Planetary System Formation in the Protoplanetary Disk around HL Tauri"
    Akiyama, Eiji; Hasegawa, Yasuhiro; Hayashi, Masahiko; Iguchi, Satoru

    ALMA long-baseline science verification campaign reveals the astonishing multiple gap structure in the circumstellar disk around HL Tau. We reanalyze the data and discuss how such a gap structure is generated. Assuming that the gaps are opened up by unseen massive bodies, gravitational instabilities may be a mechanism to form the bodies in the outer region of the disk. ALMA's unprecedented high spatial resolution observations will revolutionize our picture of planet formation.

  • 2016 - "Absence of Significant Cool Disks in Young Stellar Objects Exhibiting Repetitive Optical Outbursts"
    Liu, Hauyu Baobab; Galván-Madrid, Roberto; Vorobyov, Eduard I.; Kóspál, Ágnes; Rodríguez, Luis F.; Dunham, Michael M.; Hirano, Naomi; Henning, Thomas; Takami, Michihiro; Dong, Ruobing; Hashimoto, Jun; Hasegawa, Yasuhiro; Carrasco-González, Carlos

    Many low-mass YSOs may have experienced repetitive outburst events until they finally arrive at the main-sequence stage. We report SMA 1.3 mm high angular resolution observations toward the so- called EXors. We find that most of them have low dust masses while the previous IR observations suggest that they should have enough gas masses. Our observations therefore infer that most of EXors may not have cold dust, which would be valuable information to understand how repetitive outbursts occur around YSOs.

  • 2016 - "Chondrule Formation via Impact Jetting Triggered by Planetary Accretion"
    Hasegawa, Yasuhiro; Wakita, Shigeru; Matsumoto, Yuji; Oshino, Shoichi

    Chondrules are the primitive materials in the solar system, which enables one to explore the origins of the solar system. We investigate how and what amount of chondrules can be formed via impact jetting that can occur at planetesimal collisions. We find that formation of protoplanets leads to a large number of chondrule-forming impacts with a certain timescale, both of which are consistent with the chondritic data.

  • 2016 - "The MUSCLES Treasury Survey. III. X-Ray to Infrared Spectra of 11 M and K Stars Hosting Planets"
    Loyd, R. O. P.; France, Kevin; Youngblood, Allison; Schneider, Christian; Brown, Alexander; Hu, Renyu; Linsky, Jeffrey; Froning, Cynthia S.; Redfield, Seth; Rugheimer, Sarah; Tian, Feng

    The shape and the absolute flux of a star's emission control the atmospheric chemistry of exoplanets around it. Using new Hubble Space Telescope observations, panchromatic (X-ray to mid-IR) spectra of 11 nearby planet-hosting low-mass (M to K) stars are derived. This database of stellar spectra is the foundation of modeling atmospheric photochemistry and assessing potential biosignature gases for rocky exoplanets.

  • 2016 - "VLT FORS2 Comparative Transmission Spectroscopy: Detection of Na in the Atmosphere of WASP-39b from the Ground"
    Nikolov, Nikolay; Sing, David K.; Gibson, Neale P.; Fortney, Jonathan J.; Evans, Thomas M.; Barstow, Joanna K.; Kataria, Tiffany; Wilson, Paul A.

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

  • 2016 - "HST Hot-Jupiter Transmission Spectral Survey: Clear Skies for Cool Saturn WASP-39b"
    Fischer, Patrick D.; Knutson, Heather A.; Sing, David K.; Henry, Gregory W.; Williamson, Michael W.; Fortney, Jonathan J.; Burrows, Adam S.; Kataria, Tiffany; Nikolov, Nikolay; Showman, Adam P.; Ballester, Gilda E.; Désert, Jean-Michel; Aigrain, Suzanne; Deming, Drake; Lecavelier des Etangs, Alain; Vidal-Madjar, Alfred

    We present the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) optical transmission spectroscopy of the cool Saturn-mass exoplanet WASP-39b from 0.29-1.025 μm, along with complementary transit observations from Spitzer IRAC at 3.6 and 4.5 μm. The low density and large atmospheric pressure scale height of WASP-39b make it particularly amenable to atmospheric characterization using this technique. We detect a Rayleigh scattering slope as well as sodium and potassium absorption features; this is the first exoplanet in which both alkali features are clearly detected with the extended wings predicted by cloud-free atmosphere models. The full transmission spectrum is well matched by a clear H2-dominated atmosphere, or one containing a weak contribution from haze, in good agreement with the preliminary reduction of these data presented in Sing et al. WASP-39b is predicted to have a pressure-temperature profile comparable to that of HD 189733b and WASP-6b, making it one of the coolest transiting gas giants observed in our HST STIS survey. Despite this similarity, WASP-39b appears to be largely cloud-free, while the transmission spectra of HD 189733b and WASP-6b both indicate the presence of high altitude clouds or hazes. These observations further emphasize the surprising diversity of cloudy and cloud-free gas giant planets in short-period orbits and the corresponding challenges associated with developing predictive cloud models for these atmospheres.

  • 2016 - "Detection of H2O and Evidence for TiO/VO in an Ultra-hot Exoplanet Atmosphere"
    Evans, Thomas M.; Sing, David K.; Wakeford, Hannah R.; Nikolov, Nikolay; Ballester, Gilda E.; Drummond, Benjamin; Kataria, Tiffany; Gibson, Neale P.; Amundsen, David S.; Spake, Jessica

    We present a primary transit observation for the ultra-hot (T eq ˜ 2400 K) gas giant expolanet WASP-121b, made using the Hubble Space Telescope Wide Field Camera 3 in spectroscopic mode across the 1.12-1.64 μm wavelength range. The 1.4 μm water absorption band is detected at high confidence (5.4σ) in the planetary atmosphere. We also reanalyze ground-based photometric light curves taken in the B, r‧, and z‧ filters. Significantly deeper transits are measured in these optical bandpasses relative to the near-infrared wavelengths. We conclude that scattering by high-altitude haze alone is unlikely to account for this difference and instead interpret it as evidence for titanium oxide and vanadium oxide absorption. Enhanced opacity is also inferred across the 1.12-1.3 μm wavelength range, possibly due to iron hydride absorption. If confirmed, WASP-121b will be the first exoplanet with titanium oxide, vanadium oxide, and iron hydride detected in transmission. The latter are important species in M/L dwarfs and their presence is likely to have a significant effect on the overall physics and chemistry of the atmosphere, including the production of a strong thermal inversion.

  • 2016 - "The Atmospheric Circulation of a Nine-hot-Jupiter Sample: Probing Circulation and Chemistry over a Wide Phase Space"
    Kataria, Tiffany; Sing, David K.; Lewis, Nikole K.; Visscher, Channon; Showman, Adam P.; Fortney, Jonathan J.; Marley, Mark S.

    We present results from an atmospheric circulation study of nine hot Jupiters that compose a large transmission spectral survey using the Hubble and Spitzer Space Telescopes. These observations exhibit a range of spectral behavior over optical and infrared wavelengths, suggesting diverse cloud and haze properties in their atmospheres. By utilizing the specific system parameters for each planet, we naturally probe a wide phase space in planet radius, gravity, orbital period, and equilibrium temperature. First, we show that our model "grid" recovers trends shown in traditional parametric studies of hot Jupiters, particularly equatorial superrotation and increased day-night temperature contrast with increasing equilibrium temperature. We show how spatial temperature variations, particularly between the dayside and nightside and west and east terminators, can vary by hundreds of kelvin, which could imply large variations in Na, K, CO and {{{CH}}}4 abundances in those regions. These chemical variations can be large enough to be observed in transmission with high-resolution spectrographs, such as ESPRESSO on VLT, METIS on the E-ELT, or MIRI and NIRSpec aboard JWST. We also compare theoretical emission spectra generated from our models to available Spitzer eclipse depths for each planet and find that the outputs from our solar-metallicity, cloud-free models generally provide a good match to many of the data sets, even without additional model tuning. Although these models are cloud-free, we can use their results to understand the chemistry and dynamics that drive cloud formation in their atmospheres.

  • 2016 - "A continuum from clear to cloudy hot-Jupiter exoplanets without primordial water depletion"
    Sing, David K.; Fortney, Jonathan J.; Nikolov, Nikolay; Wakeford, Hannah R.; Kataria, Tiffany; Evans, Thomas M.; Aigrain, Suzanne; Ballester, Gilda E.; Burrows, Adam S.; Deming, Drake; Désert, Jean-Michel; Gibson, Neale P.; Henry, Gregory W.; Huitson, Catherine M.; Knutson, Heather A.; Lecavelier Des Etangs, Alain; Pont, Frederic; Showman, Adam P.; Vidal-Madjar, Alfred; Williamson, Michael H.; Wilson, Paul A.

    Thousands of transiting exoplanets have been discovered, but spectral analysis of their atmospheres has so far been dominated by a small number of exoplanets and data spanning relatively narrow wavelength ranges (such as 1.1-1.7 micrometres). Recent studies show that some hot-Jupiter exoplanets have much weaker water absorption features in their near-infrared spectra than predicted. The low amplitude of water signatures could be explained by very low water abundances, which may be a sign that water was depleted in the protoplanetary disk at the planet's formation location, but it is unclear whether this level of depletion can actually occur. Alternatively, these weak signals could be the result of obscuration by clouds or hazes, as found in some optical spectra. Here we report results from a comparative study of ten hot Jupiters covering the wavelength range 0.3-5 micrometres, which allows us to resolve both the optical scattering and infrared molecular absorption spectroscopically. Our results reveal a diverse group of hot Jupiters that exhibit a continuum from clear to cloudy atmospheres. We find that the difference between the planetary radius measured at optical and infrared wavelengths is an effective metric for distinguishing different atmosphere types. The difference correlates with the spectral strength of water, so that strong water absorption lines are seen in clear-atmosphere planets and the weakest features are associated with clouds and hazes. This result strongly suggests that primordial water depletion during formation is unlikely and that clouds and hazes are the cause of weaker spectral signatures.

  • 2016 - "Ringed Structures of the HD 163296 Protoplanetary Disk Revealed by ALMA"
    Isella, Andrea; Guidi, Greta; Testi, Leonardo; Liu, Shangfei; Li, Hui; Li, Shengtai; Weaver, Erik; Boehler, Yann; Carperter, John M.; De Gregorio-Monsalvo, Itziar; Manara, Carlo F.; Natta, Antonella; Pérez, Laura M.; Ricci, Luca; Sargent, Anneila; Tazzari, Marco; Turner, Neal

    We present Atacama Large Millimeter and Submillimeter Array observations of the protoplanetary disk around the Herbig Ae star HD 163296 that trace the spatial distribution of millimeter-sized particles and cold molecular gas on spatial scales as small as 25 astronomical units (A.U.). The image of the disk recorded in the 1.3 mm continuum emission reveals three dark concentric rings that indicate the presence of dust depleted gaps at about 60, 100, and 160 A.U. from the central star. The maps of the 12CO, 13CO, and C 18O J =2 -1 emission do not show such structures but reveal a change in the slope of the radial intensity profile across the positions of the dark rings in the continuum image. By comparing the observations with theoretical models for the disk emission, we find that the density of CO molecules is reduced inside the middle and outer dust gaps. However, in the inner ring there is no evidence of CO depletion. From the measurements of the dust and gas densities, we deduce that the gas-to-dust ratio varies across the disk and, in particular, it increases by at least a factor 5 within the inner dust gap compared to adjacent regions of the disk. The depletion of both dust and gas suggests that the middle and outer rings could be due to the gravitational torque exerted by two Saturn-mass planets orbiting at 100 and 160 A.U. from the star. On the other hand, the inner dust gap could result from dust accumulation at the edge of a magnetorotational instability dead zone, or from dust opacity variations at the edge of the CO frost line. Observations of the dust emission at higher angular resolution and of molecules that probe dense gas are required to establish more precisely the origins of the dark rings observed in the HD 163296 disk.

  • 2016 - "Signatures of Young Planets in the Continuum Emission From Protostellar Disks"
    Isella, Andrea; Turner, Neal

    Many protostellar disks show central cavities, rings, or spiral arms that could be caused by low-mass stellar or planetary companions. Few of these features are yet conclusively tied to objects embedded in the disks, perhaps because of shortcomings in our understanding of what a disk interacting with a planet looks like at the wavelengths we observe. We approach these issues noting that even small features on the disk's surface cast shadows, because the starlight grazes the surface at low angles. We therefore focus on accurately computing the disk's thickness, and thus its temperature. The embedded planet has 20, 100, or 1000~M$_\oplus$, ranging from barely enough to perturb the disk gas surface density significantly, to able to clear a deep tidal gap. We compare models that are in hydrostatic equilibrium in the vertical direction to models where the disk pressure scale height varies as a power of the orbital radius. The hydrostatic balance makes a large difference to the disk's temperature and appearance. The planet-carved gap's outer wall puffs up, throwing a shadow across the disk beyond. The shadow appears in scattered light as an additional dark ring, which could be mistaken for a gap opened by another more distant planet. The shadow is so deep it largely hides the outer arm of the spiral wave launched by the planet. The massive planets yield temperature gradients such that additional more distant low-mass planets undergoing orbital migration will converge on a location within the shadow. Furthermore the temperature perturbations affect the shape, size and contrast of the features predicted at millimeter and centimeter wavelengths. We conclude that radiative heating and cooling are important ingredients for reliably predicting the appearance of protostellar disks with embedded planets.

  • 2016 - "A Characteristic Transmission Spectrum dominated by H2O applies to the majority of HST/WFC3 exoplanet observations"
    Iyer, Aishwarya R.; Swain, Mark R.; Zellem, Robert T.; Line, Michael R.; Roudier, Gael; Rocha, Graça; Livingston, John H.

    Water is ubiquitous among hot Jupiter exoplanets and about half of their atmospheres are covered by opacity sources such as clouds, haze/aerosols. 10 out of 19 hot Jupiters observed using HST/WFC3 within the last decade have shown a significant water detection in their atmospheres. Our method allows for coherent averaging of the individual transmission spectra of these planets to produce a Representative Spectrum that is characteristic of hot Jupiter atmospheres. Additionally, we are also able to quantify that about half of these atmospheres are being blocked by cloud, haze or aerosols that affect our estimate for the true water content in hot Jupiters.

  • 2016 - “A map of the large day-night temperature gradient of a super-Earth exoplanet”
    Demory, Brice-Olivier; Gillon, Michael; de Wit, Julien; Madhusudhan, Nikku; Bolmont, Emeline; Heng, Kevin; Kataria, Tiffany; Lewis, Nikole; Hu, Renyu; Krick, Jessica; Stamenković, Vlada; Benneke, Björn; Kane, Stephen; Queloz, Didier

    55 Cancri e, approximately 40 light-years away in the constellation Cancer, has a radius twice Earth’s, and a mass 8 times greater. The paper reports a longitudinal thermal brightness map of 55 Cancri e obtained by the Spitzer Space Telescope, the first such map observed for any super-Earth class of exoplanets. The map tells us that the temperature contrast between the planet's dayside and the nightside is greater than 1000 K, and efficient energy transport occurs in the planet's dayside.

  • Papers Published in 2015

  • 2015 - "Tracing the fate of carbon and the atmospheric evolution of Mars"
    Hu, Renyu; Kass, David M.; Ehlmann, Bethany L.; Yung, Yuk L.

    The climate of Mars likely evolved from a warmer, wetter early state to the cold, arid current state. However, no solutions for this evolution have previously been found to satisfy the observed geological features and isotopic measurements of the atmosphere. Here we show that a family of solutions exist, invoking no missing reservoirs or loss processes. Escape of carbon via CO photodissociation and sputtering enriches heavy carbon (13C) in the Martian atmosphere, partially compensated by moderate carbonate precipitation. The current atmospheric 13C/12C and rock and soil carbonate measurements indicate an early atmosphere with a surface pressure >1 bar. Only scenarios with large amounts of carbonate formation in open lakes permit higher values up to 1.8 bar. The evolutionary scenarios are fully testable with data from the MAVEN mission and further studies of the isotopic composition of carbonate in the Martian rock record through time.

  • 2015 - “XO-2b: A Hot Jupiter with a Variable Host Star That Potentially Affects Its Measured Transit Depth”
    Zellem, Robert T.; Griffith, Caitlin A.; Pearson, Kyle A.; Turner, Jake D.; Henry, Gregory W.; Williamson, Michael H.; Ryleigh Fitzpatrick, M.; Teske, Johanna K.; Biddle, Lauren I.

    We conduct a multi-year study of the transiting exoplanet XO-2b to measure its Rayleigh scattering slope to place upper limits on its optically-thick radius and better constrain its molecular abundances. We also find that with mulity-year ground-based monitoring that its host star is active, potentially at the level that could affect future high-precision measurements of the signal of the exoplanet and alter the interpretations about its atmospheric properties.

  • 2015 - "Viscous Instability Triggered by Layered Accretion in Protoplanetary Disks"
    Hasegawa, Yasuhiro; Takeuchi, Taku

    The properties of protoplanetary disks, the birthplace of planets, are determined by magnetically induced turbulence. The previous theoretical studies suggest that the degree of disk turbulence varies as a function of the distance from the central star. We find that a viscous instability can take place at the boundary between high- and low-turbulent regions, which can considerably affect disk evolution and planet formation.

  • 2015 - "Studying Atmosphere-dominated Hot Jupiter Kepler Phase Curves: Evidence that Inhomogeneous Atmospheric Reflection Is Common"
    Shporer, Avi; Hu, Renyu

    In this paper we have shown that gas giant exoplanets on short orbital periods have non- uniform cloud coverage. We concluded this from the detection of non-uniform reflected star light, in visible light, across different planet longitudes. This has several implications regarding the structure and chemical composition of planetary atmospheres of such exoplanets.