TiO and VO broad band absorption features in the optical spectrum of the atmosphere of the hot-Jupiter HD 209458b
Lecavelier des Etangs, A.
Sing, David K.
Astronomy and Astrophysics
EDP Sciences for European Southern Observatory (ESO)
Aims. The presence of titanium oxide (TiO) and vanadium oxide (VO) gas phase species is searched for in the atmosphere of the hot Jupiter HD 209458b . Methods. We compared a model for the planet's transmitted spectrum to multi-wavelength eclipse-depth measurements (from 3000 to 10 000 Å) using archived HST-STIS time series spectra. We make use of these observations to search for spectral signatures from extra absorbers in the planet atmosphere between 6000 and 8000 Å. Results. Along with sodium depletion and Rayleigh scattering recently published for this exoplanet atmosphere, an extra absorber of uncertain origin, redward of the sodium lines, is present in the atmosphere of the planet. Furthermore, this planet has a stratosphere experiencing a thermal inversion caused by the capture of optical stellar flux by absorbers at altitude. Recent models have predicted that the presence of TiO and VO in the atmosphere of HD 209458b may be responsible for this temperature inversion. Although no specific TiO and VO spectral band head signatures have been identified unambiguously in the observed spectrum, we suggest here that the opacities of those molecules are possible candidates to explain the remaining continuous broad band absorption observed between 6200 and 8000 Å. To match the data reasonably well, the abundances of TiO and VO molecules are evaluated from ten to one thousand times below solar. This upper limit result is in agreement with expected variations with altitude due to depletion effects such as condensation.
Copyright © ESO 2008
Vol. 492 (2), pp. 585-592