Observing transiting planets with JWST
Prime targets and their synthetic spectral observations
1 Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie, Königstuhl 17, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany
2 Irfu, CEA, Université Paris-Saclay, 9119 Gif-sur Yvette, France
3 AIM, Université Paris Diderot, 91191 Gif-sur-Yvette, France
4 SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research, Sorbonnelaan 2, 3584 CA Utrecht, The Netherlands
5 Astronomical institute Anton Pannekoek, University of Amsterdam, Science Park 904, 1098 XH Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Received: 28 September 2016
Accepted: 21 November 2016
Context. The James Webb Space Telescope will enable astronomers to obtain exoplanet spectra of unprecedented precision. The MIRI instrument especially may shed light on the nature of the cloud particles obscuring planetary transmission spectra in the optical and near-infrared.
Aims. We provide self-consistent atmospheric models and synthetic JWST observations for prime exoplanet targets in order to identify spectral regions of interest and estimate the number of transits needed to distinguish between model setups.
Methods. We select targets that span a wide range of planetary temperatures and surface gravities, ranging from super-Earths to giant planets, that have a high expected signal-to-noise ratio. For all targets, we vary the enrichment, C/O ratio, presence of optical absorbers (TiO/VO), and cloud treatment. We calculate atmospheric structures, emission, and transmission spectra for all targets and use a radiometric model to obtain simulated observations. Further, we analyze JWST’s ability to distinguish between various scenarios.
Results. We find that in very cloudy planets, such as GJ 1214b, less than ten transits with NIRSpec may be enough to reveal molecular features. Furthermore, the presence of small silicate grains in atmospheres of hot Jupiters may be detectable with a single JWST MIRI transit. For a more detailed characterization of such particles less than ten transits are necessary. Finally, we find that some of the hottest hot Jupiters are well fitted by models which neglect the redistribution of the insolation and harbor inversions, and that 1–4 eclipse measurements with NIRSpec are needed to distinguish between the inversion models.
Conclusions. Wet thus demonstrate the capabilities of JWST for solving some of the most intriguing puzzles in current exoplanet atmospheric research. Further, by publishing all models calculated for this study we enable the community to carry out similar studies, as well as retrieval analyses for all planets included in our target list.
Key words: methods: numerical / planets and satellites: atmospheres / radiative transfer
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