PI: Beth Biller, University of Edinburgh, firstname.lastname@example.org
Address: Institute for Astronomy, Blackford Hill, Edinburgh EH9 3HJ, United Kingdom
CoI: Ignas Snellen, University of Leiden
CoI: Matthew Kenworthy, University of Leiden
CoI: Tiffany Meshkat, University of Leiden
Title: Exometeorology: Searching for Weather on Beta Pictoris b
Abstract: Variability attributed to cloud structure is a persistent feature for L and T type field brown dwarfs, potentially due to patchiness in silicate and iron condensate clouds in the atmospheres of these objects. Directly imaged planets occupy the same temperature regime as L and T type brown dwarfs and are likely to be equally variable. The planet Beta Pictoris b is one of the first directly imaged extrasolar planets. Directly imaged planet masses are derived from theoretical models which assume no variability in the planet flux. We propose to photometrically monitor the planet Beta Pic b for variability. The rotation period of the planet is approximately eight hours, and together with any rotational modulation, we will determine the inclination of the planet's rotation axis to the plane of the disk. If successful, this will be the first detection of variability and likely weather in an extrasolar planet's atmosphere. The resulting variability has strong implications for the derived masses of directly imaged planets. Beta Pic b will move behind the star in the next few years, so it is important to conduct these observations now. GPI is the only instrument in the world capable of these observations.
National Optical Astronomy Observatory, 950 North Cherry Avenue, P.O. Box 26732, Tucson, Arizona 85726, Phone: (520) 318-8000, Fax: (520) 318-8360