results for au:Natraj_V in:astro-ph
Even though it was not designed as an exoplanetary research mission, the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) has been opportunistically used for a novel experiment, in which Earth serves as a proxy exoplanet. More than two years of DSCOVR Earth images were employed to produce time series of multi-wavelength, single-point light sources, in order to extract information on planetary rotation, cloud patterns, surface type, and orbit around the Sun. In what follows, we assume that these properties of the Earth are unknown, and instead attempt to derive them from first principles. These conclusions are then compared with known data about our planet. We also used the DSCOVR data to simulate phase angle changes, as well as the minimum data collection rate needed to determine the rotation period of an exoplanet. This innovative method of using the time evolution of a multi-wavelength, reflected single-point light source, can be deployed for retrieving a range of intrinsic properties of an exoplanet around a distant star.
We present a multiple scattering vector radiative transfer model which produces disk integrated, full phase polarized light curves for reflected light from an exoplanetary atmosphere. We validate our model against results from published analytical and computational models and discuss a small number of cases relevant to the existing and possible near-future observations of the exoplanet HD 189733b. HD 189733b is arguably the most well observed exoplanet to date and the only exoplanet to be observed in polarized light, yet it is debated if the planet's atmosphere is cloudy or clear. We model reflected light from clear atmospheres with Rayleigh scattering, and cloudy or hazy atmospheres with Mie and fractal aggregate particles. We show that clear and cloudy atmospheres have large differences in polarized light as compared to simple flux measurements, though existing observations are insufficient to make this distinction. Futhermore, we show that atmospheres that are spatially inhomogeneous, such as being partially covered by clouds or hazes, exhibit larger contrasts in polarized light when compared to clear atmospheres. This effect can potentially be used to identify patchy clouds in exoplanets. Given a set of full phase polarimetric measurements, this model can constrain the geometric albedo, properties of scattering particles in the atmosphere and the longitude of the ascending node of the orbit. The model is used to interpret new polarimetric observations of HD 189733b in a companion paper.
It has been shown that spectroscopy of transiting extrasolar planets can potentially provide a wealth of information about their atmospheres. Herein, we set up the inverse problem in spectroscopic retrieval. We use non-linear optimal estimation to retrieve the atmospheric state (pioneered for Earth sounding by Rodgers 1976, 2000). The formulation quantifies the the degrees-of-freedom and information content of the spectrum with respect to geophysical parameters; herein, we focus specifically on temperature and composition. First, we apply the technique to synthetic near infrared spectra, and explore the influence of spectral signal-to-noise ratio and resolution (the two important parameters when designing a future instrument) on the information content of the data. As expected, we find that the number of retrievable parameters increase with increasing signal-to-noise and resolution, although the gains quickly asymptote for large values. Second, we apply the methods to the previously studied atmosphere of HD198733b, and compare the results of our retrieval with those obtained by others.