Volume 448, Number 1, March II 2006
|Page(s)||379 - 393|
|Section||Planets and planetary systems|
|Published online||17 February 2006|
The transmission spectrum of Earth-size transiting planets
Institut d'Astrophysique de Paris, CNRS (UMR 7095) – Université Pierre & Marie Curie, 98bis boulevard Arago, 75014 Paris, France e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
2 NASA Astrobiology Institute, California Institute of Technology, IPAC, MS 220-6, 1200 E. California, Pasadena, 91125 (CA), USA
3 Centre de Recherche Astronomique de Lyon, École Normale Supérieure, 47 allée d'Italie, 69364 Lyon Cedex 7, France
Accepted: 29 September 2005
A variety of terrestrial planets with different physical parameters and exotic atmospheres might plausibly exist outside our Solar System, waiting to be detected by the next generation of space-exploration missions. Some of these planets might be transiting their parent star. We present here a detailed study of the atmospheric signatures of transiting Earth-size exoplanets. We focus on a limited number of significant examples, for which we discuss the detectability of some of the possible molecules present in their atmospheres, such as water (H2O), carbon dioxide (CO2), ozone (O3), or molecular oxygen (O2). To this purpose, we developed a model to simulate transmission spectra of Earth-size exoplanets from the ultraviolet (UV) to the near infrared (NIR). According to our calculations, the signatures of planetary atmospheres represent an absorption of a few parts-per-million (ppm) in the stellar flux. The atmospheres of a few Earth-like planets can be detected with a 30–40 m telescope. The detection of the extensive atmospheres of tens of small satellites of giant exoplanets and hundreds of hypothetical ocean-planets can be achieved with 20–30 m and 10–20 m instruments, respectively, provided all these planets are frequent and they are efficiently surveyed. We also found that planets around K stars are favored, mainly because these stars are more numerous and smaller compared to G or F stars. While not addressed in this study, limitations might come from stellar photometric micro-variability.
Key words: planets and satellites: general
© ESO, 2006
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