First millimeter detection of the disk around a young, isolated, planetary-mass object [SSA]

OTS44 is one of only four free-floating planets known to have a disk. We have previously shown that it is the coolest and least massive known free-floating planet ($\sim$12 M${\rm Jup}$) with a substantial disk that is actively accreting. We have obtained Band 6 (233 GHz) ALMA continuum data of this very young disk-bearing object. The data shows a clear unresolved detection of the source. We obtained disk-mass estimates via empirical correlations derived for young, higher-mass, central (substellar) objects. The range of values obtained are between 0.07 and 0.63 M${\oplus}$ (dust masses). We compare the properties of this unique disk with those recently reported around higher-mass (brown dwarfs) young objects in order to infer constraints on its mechanism of formation. While extreme assumptions on dust temperature yield disk-mass values that could slightly diverge from the general trends found for more massive brown dwarfs, a range of sensible values provide disk masses compatible with a unique scaling relation between $M_{\rm dust}$ and $M_{*}$ through the substellar domain down to planetary masses.

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A. Bayo, V. Joergens, Y. Liu, et. al.
Fri, 19 May 17

Comments: 7 pages, 2 figures

Exoplanet Biosignatures: A Framework for Their Assessment [EPA]

Finding life on exoplanets from telescopic observations is the ultimate goal of exoplanet science. Life produces gases and other substances, such as pigments, which can have distinct spectral or photometric signatures. Whether or not life is found in future data must be expressed with probabilities, requiring a framework for biosignature assessment. We present such a framework, which advocates using biogeochemical “Exo-Earth System” models to simulate potentially biogenic spectral or photometric data. Given actual observations, these simulations are then used to find the Bayesian likelihoods of those data occurring for scenarios with and without life. The latter includes “false positives” where abiotic sources mimic biosignatures. Prior knowledge of factors influencing inhabitance, including previous observations, is combined with the likelihoods to give the probability of life existing on a given exoplanet. Four components of observation and analysis are used. 1) Characterization of stellar (e.g., age and spectrum) and exoplanetary system properties, including “external” exoplanet parameters (e.g., mass and radius) to determine its suitability for life. 2) Characterization of “internal” exoplanet parameters (e.g., climate) to evaluate whether an exoplanet surface can host life. 3) Assessment of potential biosignatures through environmental context (components 1-2) and corroborating evidence. 4) Exclusion of false positives. The resulting Bayesian probabilities of life detection map to five confidence levels, ranging from “very likely” to “very unlikely” inhabited.

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D. Catling, J. Krissansen-Totton, N. Kiang, et. al.
Fri, 19 May 17

Comments: Part of a NASA Nexus for Exoplanet System Science (NExSS) series of 5 papers, to be submitted to Astrobiology. Comments welcome. 42 pages, 2 figures, 6 tables

HADES RV Programme with HARPS-N at TNG: V. A super-Earth on the inner edge of the habitable zone oft he nearby M-dwarf GJ 625 [EPA]

We report the discovery of a super-Earth orbiting at the inner edge of the habitable zone of the star GJ 625 based on the analysis of the radial-velocity (RV) time series from the HARPS-N spectrograph, consisting in 151 HARPS-N measurements taken over 3.5 yr. GJ 625 b is a planet with a minimum mass M sin $i$ of 2.82 $\pm$ 0.51 M$_{\oplus}$ with an orbital period of 14.628 $\pm$ 0.013 days at a distance of 0.078 AU of its parent star. The host star is the quiet M2 V star GJ 625, located at 6.5 pc from the Sun. We find the presence of a second radial velocity signal in the range 74-85 days that we relate to stellar rotation after analysing the time series of Ca II H\&K and H${\alpha}$ spectroscopic indicators, the variations of the FWHM of the CCF and and the APT2 photometric light curves. We find no evidence linking the short period radial velocity signal to any activity proxy.

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A. Mascareno, J. Hernandez, R. Rebolo, et. al.
Fri, 19 May 17

Comments: 22 pages, 21 figures, 10 tables

The compositional diversity of non-Vesta basaltic asteroids [EPA]

We present near-infrared (0.78-2.45 {\mu}m) reflectance spectra for nine middle and outer main belt (a > 2.5 AU) basaltic asteroids. Three of these objects are spectrally distinct from all classifications in the Bus-DeMeo system and could represent spectral end members in the existing taxonomy or be representatives of a new spectral type. The remainder of the sample are classified as V- or R- type. All of these asteroids are dynamically detached from the Vesta collisional family, but are too small to be intact differentiated parent bodies, implying that they originated from differentiated planetesimals which have since been destroyed or ejected from the solar system. The 1- and 2-{\mu}m band centers of all objects, determined using the Modified Gaussian Model (MGM), were compared to those of 47 Vestoids and fifteen HED meteorites of known composition. The HEDs enabled us to determine formulas relating Band 1 and Band 2 centers to pyroxene ferrosilite (Fs) compositions. Using these formulas we present the most comprehensive compositional analysis to date of middle and outer belt basaltic asteroids. We also conduct a careful error analysis of the MGM-derived band centers for implementation in future analyses. The six outer belt V- and R-type asteroids show more dispersion in parameter space than the Vestoids, reflecting greater compositional diversity than Vesta and its associated bodies. The objects analyzed have Fs numbers which are, on average, between five and ten molar percent lower than those of the Vestoids; however, identification and compositional analysis of additional outer belt basaltic asteroids would help to confirm or refute this result. Given the gradient in oxidation state which existed within the solar nebula, these results tentatively suggest that these objects formed at either a different time or location than 4 Vesta.

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T. Leith, N. Moskovitz, R. Mayne, et. al.
Fri, 19 May 17

Comments: 41 pages, 8 figures

A Statistical Comparative Planetology Approach to the Hunt for Habitable Exoplanets and Life Beyond the Solar System [EPA]

The search for habitable exoplanets and life beyond the Solar System is one of the most compelling scientific opportunities of our time. Nevertheless, the high cost of building facilities that can address this topic and the keen public interest in the results of such research requires the rigorous development of experiments that can deliver a definitive advance in our understanding. Most work to date in this area has focused on a “systems science” approach of obtaining and interpreting comprehensive data for individual planets to make statements about their habitability and the possibility that they harbor life. This strategy is challenging because of the diversity of exoplanets, both observed and expected, and the limited information that can be obtained with astronomical instruments. Here we propose a complementary approach that is based on performing surveys of key planetary characteristics and using statistical marginalization to answer broader questions than can be addressed with a small sample of objects. The fundamental principle of this comparative planetology approach is maximizing what can be learned from each type of measurement by applying it widely rather than requiring that multiple kinds of observations be brought to bear on a single object. As a proof of concept, we outline a survey of terrestrial exoplanet atmospheric water and carbon dioxide abundances that would test the habitable zone hypothesis and lead to a deeper understanding of the frequency of habitable planets. We also discuss ideas for additional surveys that could be developed to test other foundational hypotheses is this area.

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J. Bean, D. Abbot and E. Kempton
Fri, 19 May 17

Comments: ApJL in press

ExoMol Line List XXI: Nitric Oxide (NO) [EPA]

Line lists for the ground electronic ground state for six major isotopologues of nitric oxide are presented. The line lists are constructed using empirical energy levels (and line positions) and high-level {\it ab inito} intensities. The energy levels were obtained using a combination of two approaches, from an effective Hamiltonian and from solving the rovibronic Schr\”{o}dinger equation variationally. The effective hamiltonian model was obtained through a fit to the experimental line positions of NO available in the literature for all six isotopologues using the programs SPFIT and SPCAT. The variational model was built through a least squares fit of the \textit{ab inito} potential and spin-orbit curves to the experimentally derived energies and experimental line positions of the main isotopologue only using the Duo program. The \textit{ab inito} potential energy, spin-orbit and dipole moment curves (PEC, SOC and DMC) are computed using high-level {\it ab inito} methods and the MARVEL method is used to obtain energies of NO from experimental transition frequencies. Each line list covers a wavenumber range from 0 – 40,000 \cm with approximately 22,000 rovibronic states and 2.3-2.6 million transitions extending to $J_{max} = 184.5$ and $v_{max} = 51$. Partition functions are also calculated up to a temperature of 5000 K. The calculated absorption line intensities at 296 K using these line lists show excellent agreement with those included in the HITRAN and HITEMP databases. The computed NO line lists are the most comprehensive to date, covering a wider wavenumber and temperature range compared to both the HITRAN and HITEMP databases. These line lists are also more accurate than those used in HITEMP. The full line lists are available from the CDS and ExoMol databases; data will also be available from CDMS.

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A. Wong, S. Yurchenko, P. Bernath, et. al.
Thu, 18 May 17

Comments: N/A

An Observational Diagnostic for Distinguishing Between Clouds and Haze in Hot Exoplanet Atmospheres [EPA]

The nature of aerosols in hot exoplanet atmospheres is one of the primary vexing questions facing the exoplanet field. The complex chemistry, multiple formation pathways, and lack of easily identifiable spectral features associated with aerosols make it especially challenging to constrain their key properties. We propose a transmission spectroscopy technique to identify the primary aerosol formation mechanism for the most highly irradiated hot Jupiters. The technique is based on the expectation that the two key types of aerosols — photochemically generated hazes and equilibrium condensate clouds — are expected to form and persist in different regions of a highly irradiated planet’s atmosphere. Haze can only be produced on the permanent daysides of tidally-locked hot Jupiters, and will be carried downwind by atmospheric dynamics to the evening terminator (seen as the trailing limb during transit). Clouds can only form in cooler regions on the night side and morning terminator (seen as the leading limb during transit) of the most highly irradiated giant planets. Because opposite limbs are expected to be impacted by different types of aerosols, ingress and egress spectra, which primarily probe opposing sides of the planet, will reveal the dominant aerosol formation mechanism. In either case, we typically expect the adjacent hemisphere to retain clear skies. Using this diagnostic, we find that observations with JWST and potentially with HST should be able to distinguish between clouds and haze for currently known highly irradiated hot Jupiters.

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E. Kempton and J. Bean
Thu, 18 May 17

Comments: 10 pages, 4 figures, submitted to ApJ Letters