We present a HST WFC3 transmission spectrum for the transiting exoplanet HAT-P-12b. This warm (1000 K) sub-Saturn-mass planet has a smaller mass and a lower temperature than the hot-Jupiters that have been studied so far. We find that the planet’s measured transmission spectrum lacks the expected water absorption feature for a hydrogen-dominated atmosphere, and is instead best-described by a model with high-altitude clouds. Using a frequentist hypothesis testing procedure, we can rule out a hydrogen-dominated cloud free atmosphere to 4.9$\sigma$. When combined with other recent WFC3 studies, our observations suggest that clouds may be common in exo-planetary atmospheres.
Date added: Fri, 18 Oct 13