NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2016A-0166

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Program Information for 2016A-0166


PI: Seth Redfield, Wesleyan U., sredfield@wesleyan.edu
Address: Astronomy Department, 96 Foss Hill Drive, Middletown, CT 06459 USA

CoI: Paul Wilson Cauley, Wesleyan U.
CoI: Adam Jensen, University of Nebraska, Kearney
CoI: Michael Endl, U. of Texas, Austin
CoI: William Cochran, U. of Texas, Austin
CoI: Travis Barman, U. of Arizona

Title: Rayleigh Scattering in Exoplanet Atmospheres

Abstract: The vast majority of exoplanet atmospheric characterization has been of gas giants in the form of narrow atomic features in high-resolution optical and ultraviolet spectra (e.g., Na~{small I}, H$alpha$) and from broad molecular features in narrowband infrared photometry (e.g., CO, CO$_2$, H$_2$O). Super-Earths ($M < 10M_oplus$) are of particular interest not only because there is no solar system analog, but also because the atmospheric transition from low molecular weight (giant- like) to high molecular weight (terrestrial-like) occurs in this regime. Observations of Rayleigh scattering in the optical are required to make a unique determination of atmospheric structure. We propose to take advantage of the multi-object capability of Hydra on WIYN to make a ground-based detection of a complete optical Rayleigh scattering spectrum of an exoplanetary atmosphere. We predict that we could detect the measurement of Rayleigh scattering of HD189733b observed with {it HST}, with a significance of $sim$7$sigma$ and smaller, Neptune-mass planets at $>$3$sigma$ with a single observed transit. Lessons from our pilot program in the 13A semester provide a valuable foundation for these observations.

Program Type: Standard/NASA WIYN

Scheduled Nights:
Run 1 (2016A):  WIYN/HYDR -- 4n on Feb 11 - Feb 12 2016, Jul 01 2016, Jul 21 2016


National Optical Astronomy Observatory, 950 North Cherry Avenue, P.O. Box 26732, Tucson, Arizona 85726, Phone: (520) 318-8000, Fax: (520) 318-8360



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