The Atmospheres of Two Super-Puffs: Transmission Spectra of Kepler 51b and Kepler 51d

Thursday 5 July, 11:30

The Kepler 51 system hosts three transiting, extremely low-mass, low-density exoplanets. These planets orbit a young G type star at periods of 45, 85 and 130 days, placing them outside of the regime for the inflated hot-Jupiters. Instead, the Kepler 51 planets are part of a rare class of exoplanets: the super-puffs. Models suggest these H/He-rich planets formed outside of the snow-line and migrated inwards, which might imply abundant water in their atmospheres. Because Kepler 51b and 51d have low surface gravities, they are prime targets for atmospheric investigation. We are also presented with a unique opportunity to study two super-puffs in very different temperature regimes around the same star. Therefore, we observed two transits each of both Kepler 51b and 51d with the HST’s WFC3 G141 grism spectroscopy. Using these data we created spectroscopic light curves that allow us to compute a transmission spectrum for each planet. We conclude that both planets have a flat transmission spectrum with a precision better than 0.6 scale heights between 1.1 and 1.7 microns. We also analyzed the transit timing variations of each planet by combining re-fitted Kepler mid-transit times with our measured HST times. From these additional timing points, we better constrain the planetary masses and dynamics of the system. With updated masses and revisited stellar parameters, we determine precise measurements on the densities of these planets. We will present these results as well as discuss the implications for high altitude aerosols in both Kepler 51b and 51d.

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