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What can we learn about giant planets from low resolution spectra?

  • Jonathan J. Fortney (a1) (a2) and Mark S. Marley (a1)

Abstract

Here we examine the visible spectra of giant planets in anticipation of the science return of missions like the Terrestrial Planet Finder-Coronagraph and proposed Discovery class space coronagraph missions EPIC and ECLIPSE. Our understanding of extrasolar giant planets is already greatly improving because of our studies of old brown dwarfs (which have effective temperatures similar to young giant planets), transiting hot Jupiters, and the planet Jupiter itself. The first data collected on Jupiter-like extrasolar giant planets will likely consist of magnitudes in a few filters or very low resolution spectra. We investigate diagnostics for determining planetary effective temperature, atmospheric chemical abundances, cloud cover, and mass using such limited data. In general, giant planet science is improved significantly if missions in the visible domain extend to wavelengths as long as possible, within engineering constraints.

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