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We review our current understanding of the interior structure and thermal evolution of Saturn, with a focus on recent results in the Cassini era. There has been important progress in understanding physical inputs, including equations of state of planetary materials and their mixtures, physical parameters like the gravity field and rotation rate, and constraints on Saturnian free oscillations. At the same time, new methods of calculation, including work on the gravity field of rotating fluid bodies, and the role of interior composition gradients, should help to better constrain the state of Saturn’s interior, now and earlier in its history. However, a better appreciation of modeling uncertainties and degeneracies, along with a greater exploration of modeling phase space, still leave great uncertainties in our understanding of Saturn’s interior. Further analysis of Cassini data sets, as well as precise gravity field measurements from the Cassini Grand Finale orbits, will further revolutionize our understanding of Saturn’s interior over the next few years.
The Calar Alto Secondary Eclipse study was a program dedicated to observe secondary eclipses in the near-IR of two known close-orbiting exoplanets around K-dwarfs: WASP-10b and Qatar-1b. Such observations reveal hints on the orbital configuration of the system and on the thermal emission of the exoplanet, which allows the study of the brightness temperature of its atmosphere. The observations were performed at the Calar Alto Observatory (Spain). We used the OMEGA2000 instrument (Ks band) at the 3.5m telescope. The data was acquired with the telescope strongly defocused. The differential light curve was corrected from systematic effects using the Principal Component Analysis (PCA) technique. The final light curve was fitted using an occultation model to find the eclipse depth and a possible phase shift by performing a MCMC analysis. The observations have revealed a secondary eclipse of WASP-10b with depth of 0.137%, and a depth of 0.196% for Qatar-1b. The observed phase offset from expected mid-eclipse was of −0.0028 for WASP-10b, and of −0.0079 for Qatar-1b. These measured offsets led to a value for |ecosω| of 0.0044 for the WASP-10b system, leading to a derived eccentricity which was too small to be of any significance. For Qatar-1b, we have derived a |ecosω| of 0.0123, however, this last result needs to be confirmed with more data. The estimated Ks-band brightness temperatures are of 1647 K and 1885 K for WASP-10b and Qatar-1b, respectively. We also found an empirical correlation between the (R′HK) activity index of planet hosts and the Ks-band brightness temperature of exoplanets, considering a small number of systems.
We present Spitzer 8 μm transit observations of the extrasolar planet system HD 149026b. At this wavelength, transit light curves are weakly affected by stellar limb-darkening, allowing for a simpler and more accurate determination of planetary parameters. We measure a planet-star radius ratio of Rp/R∗=0.05158±0.00077, and in combination with ground-based data and independent constraints on the stellar mass and radius, we derive an orbital inclination of i = 85°.4+0°.9−0°.8 and a planet radius of 0.755 ± 0.040 RJ. These measurements further support models in which the planet is greatly enriched in heavy elements.
We highlight the potential importance of gaseous TiO and VO opacity on the highly irradiated close-in giant planets. The day-side atmospheres of these planets may naturally fall into two classes that are somewhat analogous to the M- and L-type dwarfs. Those that are warm enough to have appreciable opacity due to TiO and VO gases we term the “pM Class” planets, and those that are cooler, such that Ti and V are predominantly in solid condensates, we term “pL Class” planets. The optical spectra of pL Class planets are dominated by neutral atomic Na and K absorption. We discuss a connection between temperature inversions and large day/night temperature contrasts for the pM Class planets. Around a Sun-like primary, for solar composition, this boundary likely occurs at ~0.04-0.05 AU, but we discuss important uncertainties. The difference in the observed day/night contrast between υ And b (pM Class) and HD 189733b (pL Class) is naturally explained in this scenario.
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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