Volume 547, November 2012
|Number of page(s)||11|
|Section||Planets and planetary systems|
|Published online||22 October 2012|
The June 2012 transit of Venus
Framework for interpretation of observations
Grupo de Ciencias Planetarias, Dpto. de Física Aplicada I, Escuela Técnica
Superior de Ingeniería, Universidad del País Vasco,
Alameda de Urquijo s/n,
2 Research School of Physics and Engineering and Fenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia
Accepted: 30 August 2012
Context. On 5–6 June 2012 ground-based observers have the last opportunity of the century to watch the passage of Venus across the solar disk from Earth. Venus transits have traditionally provided unique insight into the Venus atmosphere through the refraction halo that appears at the planet’s outer terminator near ingress/egress. Much more recently, Venus transits have attracted renewed interest because the technique of transits is being successfully applied to the characterization of extrasolar planet atmospheres.
Aims. The current work theoretically investigates the interaction of sunlight and the Venus atmosphere through the full range of transit phases, as observed from Earth and from a remote distance. Our model predictions quantify the relevant atmospheric phenomena, thereby assisting the observers of the event in the interpretation of measurements and extrapolation to the exoplanet case.
Methods. Our approach relies on numerical integration of the radiative transfer equation, and includes refraction, multiple scattering, atmospheric extinction, and solar limb darkening, as well as an up-to-date description of the Venus atmosphere.
Results. We produce synthetic images of the planet’s terminator during ingress/egress that demonstrate the evolving shape, brightness, and chromaticity of the halo. Our simulations reveal the impact of micrometer-sized aerosols borne in the upper haze layer of the atmosphere on the halo’s appearance. Guidelines are offered for the investigation of the planet’s upper haze from vertically-unresolved photometric measurements. In this respect, the comparison with measurements from the 2004 transit appears encouraging. We also show integrated lightcurves of the Venus-Sun system at various phases during transit and calculate the respective Venus-Sun integrated transmission spectra. The comparison of the model predictions to those for a Venus-like planet free of haze and clouds (and therefore a closer terrestrial analog) complements the discussion and sets the conclusions into a broader perspective.
Key words: radiative transfer / planets and satellites: atmospheres / planets and satellites: individual: Venus
© ESO, 2012
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