Ground-based transit observations of the super-Earth GJ 1214b [EPA]

GJ 1214b is one of the few known transiting super-Earth-sized exoplanets with a measured mass and radius. It orbits an M-dwarf, only 14.55 pc away, making it a favorable candidate for follow-up studies. However, the composition of GJ 1214b’s mysterious atmosphere has yet to be fully unveiled. Our goal is to distinguish between the various proposed atmospheric models to explain the properties of GJ 1214b: hydrogen-rich or hydrogen-He mix, or a heavy molecular weight atmosphere with reflecting high clouds, as latest studies have suggested. Wavelength-dependent planetary radii measurements from the transit depths in the optical/NIR are the best tool to investigate the atmosphere of GJ 1214b. We present here (i) photometric transit observations with a narrow-band filter centered on 2.14 microns and a broad-band I-Bessel filter centered on 0.8665 microns, and (ii) transmission spectroscopy in the H and K atmospheric windows that cover three transits. The obtained photometric and spectrophotometric time series were analyzed with MCMC simulations to measure the planetary radii as a function of wavelength. We determined radii ratios of 0.1173 for I-Bessel and 0.11735 at 2.14 microns. Our measurements indicate a flat transmission spectrum, in agreement with last atmospheric models that favor featureless spectra with clouds and high molecular weight compositions.

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C. Caceres, P. Kabath, S. Hoyer, et. al.
Thu, 13 Mar 14