Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

Optimal measures for characterizing water-rich super-Earths

  • Nikku Madhusudhan (a1) and Seth Redfield (a2)

Abstract

The detection and atmospheric characterization of super-Earths is one of the major frontiers of exoplanetary science. Currently, extensive efforts are underway to detect molecules, particularly H2O, in super-Earth atmospheres. In the present work, we develop a systematic set of strategies to identify and observe potentially H2O-rich super-Earths that provide the best prospects for characterizing their atmospheres using existing instruments. First, we provide analytic prescriptions and discuss factors that need to be taken into account while planning and interpreting observations of super-Earth radii and spectra. We discuss how observations in different spectral bandpasses constrain different atmospheric properties of a super-Earth, including radius and temperature of the planetary surface as well as the mean molecular mass, the chemical composition and thermal profile of the atmosphere. In particular, we caution that radii measured in certain bandpasses can induce biases in the interpretation of the interior compositions. Second, we investigate the detectability of H2O-rich super-Earth atmospheres using the Hubble Space Telescope Wide Field Camera 3 spectrograph as a function of the planetary properties and stellar brightness. We find that highly irradiated super-Earths orbiting bright stars, such as 55 Cancri e, present better candidates for atmospheric characterization compared to cooler planets such as GJ 1214b even if the latter orbit lower-mass stars. Besides being better candidates for both transmission and emission spectroscopy, hotter planets offer higher likelihood of cloud-free atmospheres which aid tremendously in the observation and interpretation of spectra. Finally, we present case studies of two super-Earths, GJ 1214b and 55 Cancri e, using available data and models of their interiors and atmospheres.

Copyright

Corresponding author

References

Hide All
Abe, Y., Abe-Ouchi, A., Sleep, N. H. & Zahnle, K. J. (2011). Astrobiology 11, 443.
Atreya, S. K. (2010). Atmospheric Moons Galileo would have loved. Galileo's Medicean Moons  –  their impact on 400 Years of Discovery. (Barbieri, C. et al. eds.), Proc. IAU Symp. No. 269, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Barclay, T. et al. (2013). Astrophys. J. 768, 101.
Batalha, N. et al. (2011). Astrophys. J. 729, 27.
Bean, J.L., Miller-Ricci Kempton, E. & Homeier, D. (2010). Nature 468, 669.
Bean, J. et al. (2011). Astrophys. J. 743, 92.
Belu, A. R. et al. (2011). Astron. Astrophys.. 525, A83.
Belu, A. R. et al. (2013). Astrophys. J. 768, 125.
Bennekke, B. & Seager, S. (2012). Astrophys. J. 753, 100.
Bennekke, B. & Seager, S. (2013). arXiv:1306.6325B.
Berta, Z. et al. (2012). Astrophys. J. 747, 35.
Borucki, W. J. et al. (2013). Science 340, 587.
Broeg, C. et al. (2013). Hot planets and cool stars, Garching, Germany ed. Roberto, Saglia, EPJ Web Conf., 47, 03005 (arXiv:1305.2270)
Castan, T. & Menou, K. (2011). Astrophys. J. 743, L36.
Charbonneau, D. et al. (2009). Nature 462, 891.
Croll, B. et al. (2011). Astrophys. J. 736, 78.
de Mooij, E. J. W. et al. (2012). Astron. Astrophys.. 538, 46.
Deming, D. et al. (2013). Astrophys. J. 774, 95.
Demory, B-O. et al. (2011) Astron. Astrophys.. 533, A114.
Demory, B-O. et al. (2012). Astrophys. J. 751, L28.
Désert, J.-M. et al. (2011). Astrophys. J. 731, L40.
Dragomir, D. et al. (2013). Astrophys. J. 772, L2.
Ehrenreich, et al. (2012). Astron. Astrophys.. 547, A18.
Endl, M. et al. (2012). Astrophys. J. 759, 19.
Fortney, J. J., Marley, M. S., Barnes, J. W. (2007) Astrophys. J. 659, 1661.
Fressin, F. et al. (2013). Astrophys. J. 766, 81.
Gillon, M. et al. (2012). Astron. Astrophys.. 539, A28.
Gillon, M. et al. (2014). A&A, 563A, 21
Gillon, M., Jehin, E., Fumel, A., Magain, P., Queloz, D. (2013). Hot planets and cool stars, Garching, Germany, ed. Saglia, R., EPJ Web Conf., 47, id.03001
Gong, Y-X. & Zhou, J-L. (2012). Res. Astron. Astrophys.. 12(6), 678.
Hedelt, P. et al. (2013). Astron. Astrophys.. 553, A9.
Heng, K. & Kopparla, P. (2012). Astrophys. J. 754, 60.
Howard, A. et al. (2012) Astrophys. J Suppl. 201, 15.
Howe, A. & Burrows, A. (2012) Astrophys. J. 756, 176.
Kaltenegger, L. & Traub, W. (2009). 698, 519.
Kaltenegger, L., Sasselov, D. & Rugheimer, S. (2013). Astrophys. J. 775, L47
Kasting, J. F. (1993). 101, 108.
Kempton, E., Zahnle, K. & Fortney, J. J. (2012). Astrophys. J. 745, 3.
Kipping, D. M., Spiegel, D. S. & Sasselov, D. D. (2013). Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc., 434, 1883.
Kopparapu, R. K. et al. (2013a) Astrophys. J. 765, 131.
Kopparapu, R. K. et al. (2013b). Astrophys. J. 770, 82.
Kreidberg, L. et al. (2014). Nature 505, 69.
Lee, J.-M., Fletcher, L. N. & Irwin, P. G. J. (2012). Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 420, 170.
Leger, A. et al. (2009). Astron. Astrophys.. 506, 287.
Line, M. et al. (2012). Astrophys. J. 749, 93.
Lodders, K. (2002). Astrophys. J. 577, 974.
Madhusudhan, N. (2012). Astrophys. J. 758, 36.
Madhusudhan, N. & Seager, S. (2009). Astrophys. J. 707, 24.
Madhusudhan, N. & Seager, S. (2011). Astrophys. J. 729, 41.
Madhusudhan, N. et al. (2011). Nature 469, 64.
Madhusudhan, N. et al. (2012). Astrophys. J. 759, L40.
Marley, M. S., Ackerman, A. S., Cuzzi, J. N. & Kitzmann, D. (2013). In comparative climatology of terrestrial planets (eds. Mackwell, Stephen J., Simon-Miller, Amy A., Harder, Jerald W., and Bullock, Mark A.), University of Arizona Press, Tucson, 610 pp., p. 367–391.
Moriarty, J., Madhusudhan, N. & Fischer, D. (2014). Astrophys. J. 787, 81.
Morley, C. V. et al. (2013). Astrophys. J. 775, 33.
Miller-Ricci, E. & Fortney, J. J. (2010). Astrophys. J. 716, L74.
Miller-Ricci, E., Seager, S. & Sasselov, D. (2009). Astrophys. J. 690, 1056.
Pickles, A. J. (1998). Publ. Astron. Soc. Pacific 110, 863.
Pont, F., Knutson, H., Gilliland, R. L., Moutou, C. & Charbonneau, D. (2008). Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 385, 109.
Quintana, E. et al. (2014). Science 344, 277.
Rauer, H. et al. (2013). Experimental Astronomy, submitted (arXiv:1310.0696)
Ricker, G. et al. (2014). Proc. SPIE, Astronomical Telescopes + Instrumentation, submitted (arXiv:1406.0151).
Rogers, L. A. & Seager, S. (2010a). Astrophys. J. 712, 974.
Rogers, L. A. & Seager, S. (2010b). Astrophys. J. 716, 1208.
Seager, S., et al. (2007). Astrophys. J. 669, 1279.
Selsis, F. (2007). Lectures in Astrobiology, Advances in Astrobiology and Biogeophysics.. p. 199. Springer-Verlag, Berlin, Heidelberg, 2007.
Snellen, I., Stuik, R., Navarro, R., et al. (2012). Proc. SPIE 8444, 84440I.
Snellen, I. A. G. et al. (2013). Astrophys. J. 764, 182.
Sotin, C., Grasset, O. & Mocquet, A. (2007). Icarus 191, 337.
Spiegel, D. S., Silverio, K. & Burrows, A. (2009). Astrophys. J. 699, 1487.
Sudarsky, D., Burrows, A. & Hubeny, I. (2003). Astrophys. J. 588, 1121.
Valencia, D., O'Connell, R. J. & Sasselov, D. D. (2006). Icarus 181, 545.
Valencia, D., Ikoma, M., Guillot, T. & Nettelmann, N. (2010). Astron. Astrophys.. 516A, 20.
Valencia, D., Guillot, T., Parmentier, V. & Freedman, R. S. (2013). Astrophys. J. 775, 10.
von Braun, K. et al. (2011). Astrophys. J. 740, 49.
Wagner, F. W., Tosi, N., Sohl, F., Rauer, H. & Spohn, T. (2012). Astron. Astrophys.. 541, 103.
Winn, J. N. et al. (2011). Astrophys. J. 737, L18.
Wright, J. T. et al. (2011). Publ. Astron. Soc. Pacific 123, 412.

Keywords

Optimal measures for characterizing water-rich super-Earths

  • Nikku Madhusudhan (a1) and Seth Redfield (a2)

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed