Volume 646, February 2021
|Number of page(s)||12|
|Section||Planets and planetary systems|
|Published online||03 February 2021|
Evidence for chromium hydride in the atmosphere of hot Jupiter WASP-31b
Kapteyn Astronomical Institute, University of Groningen,
9747 AD Groningen,
2 School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh, King’s Buildings, Edinburgh EH9 3FF, UK
3 Centre for Exoplanet Science, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH9 3FD, UK
4 SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research, Landleven 12, 9747 AD Groningen, The Netherlands
5 SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research, Sorbonnelaan 2, 3584 CA Utrecht, The Netherlands
Accepted: 24 November 2020
Context. The characterisation of exoplanet atmospheres has shown a wide diversity of compositions. Hot Jupiters have the appropriate temperatures to host metallic compounds, which should be detectable through transmission spectroscopy.
Aims. We aim to detect exotic species in the transmission spectra of hot Jupiters, specifically WASP-31b, by testing a variety of chemical species to explain the spectrum.
Methods. We conduct a re-analysis of publicly available transmission data of WASP-31b using the Bayesian retrieval framework TAUREX II. We retrieve various combinations of the opacities of 25 atomic and molecular species to determine the minimum set that is needed to fit the observed spectrum.
Results. We report evidence for the spectroscopic signatures of chromium hydride (CrH), H2O, and K in WASP-31b. Compared to a flat model without any signatures, a CrH-only model is preferred with a statistical significance of ~3.9σ. A model consisting of both CrH and H2O is found with ~2.6 and ~3σ confidence over a CrH-only model and an H2O-only model, respectively. Furthermore, weak evidence for the addition of K is found at ~2.2σ over the H2O+CrH model, although the fidelity of the data point associated with this signature was questioned in earlier studies. Finally, the inclusion of collision-induced absorption and a Rayleigh scattering slope (indicating the presence of aerosols) is found with ~3.5σ confidence over the flat model. This analysis presents the first evidence for signatures of CrH in a hot Jupiter atmosphere. At a retrieved temperature of 1481−355+264 K, the atmosphere of WASP-31b is hot enough to host gaseous Cr-bearing species, and the retrieved abundances agree well with predictions from thermal equilibrium chemistry. Furthermore, the retrieved abundance of CrH agrees with the abundance in an L-type brown dwarf atmosphere. However, additional retrievals using VLT FORS2 data lead to a non-detection of CrH. Future observations with James Webb Space Telescope have the potential to confirm the detection and/or discover other CrH features.
Key words: planets and satellites: atmospheres / planets and satellites: individual: WASP-31b / techniques: spectroscopic
© ESO 2021
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