HST hot-Jupiter transmission spectral survey: detection of potassium in WASP-31b along with a cloud deck and Rayleigh scattering
We present Hubble Space Telescope optical and near-IR transmission spectra of the transiting hot-Jupiter WASP-31b. The spectrum covers 0.3–1.7 μm at a resolution R ∼ 70, which we combine with Spitzer photometry to cover the full-optical to IR. The spectrum is dominated by a cloud deck with a flat transmission spectrum which is apparent at wavelengths > 0.52 μm. The cloud deck is present at high altitudes and low pressures, as it covers the majority of the expected optical Na line and near-IR H2O features. While Na i absorption is not clearly identified, the resulting spectrum does show a very strong potassium feature detected at the 4.2σ confidence level. Broadened alkali wings are not detected, indicating pressures below ∼10 mbar. The lack of Na and strong K is the first indication of a sub-solar Na/K abundance ratio in a planetary atmosphere (ln[Na/K] = −3.3 ± 2.8), which could potentially be explained by Na condensation on the planet's night side, or primordial abundance variations. A strong Rayleigh scattering signature is detected at short wavelengths, with a 4σ significant slope. Two distinct aerosol size populations can explain the spectra, with a smaller sub-micron size grain population reaching high altitudes producing a blue Rayleigh scattering signature on top of a larger, lower lying population responsible for the flat cloud deck at longer wavelengths. We estimate that the atmospheric circulation is sufficiently strong to mix micron size particles upwards to the required 1–10 mbar pressures, necessary to explain the cloud deck. These results further confirm the importance of clouds in hot Jupiters, which can potentially dominate the overall spectra and may alter the abundances of key gaseous species.
© 2014 The Authors Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society. Accepted 2014 October 28. Received 2014 September 4; in original form 2014 July 24. This work is based on observations with the NASA/ESA HST, obtained at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) operated by AURA, Inc. This work is also based in part on observations made with the Spitzer Space Telescope, which is operated by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology under a contract with NASA. The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Research Council under the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) / ERC grant agreement no. 336792.We thank the anonymous referee for their comments. DS, FP, and NN acknowledge support from STFC consolidated grant ST/J0016/1. Support for this work was provided by NASA through grants under the HST-GO-12473 programme from the STScI. PW and HW acknowledge support from the UK Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC). ALE and AVM acknowledge support from the French Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR), under programme ANR-12-BS05-0012 'Exo-Atmos'.
Submitted - 1410.7611v1.pdf
Published - 2428.full.pdf