Thursday, January 10, 2013

1301.1860 (C. A. Haswell et al.)

Near-UV Absorption, Chromospheric Activity, and Star-Planet Interactions in the WASP-12 system    [PDF]

C. A. Haswell, L. Fossati, T. Ayres, K. France, C. S. Froning, S. Holmes, U. C. Kolb, R. Busuttil, R. A. Street, L. Hebb, A. Collier Cameron, B. Enoch, V. Burwitz, J. Rodriguez, R. G. West, D. Pollacco, P. J. Wheatley, A. Carter
We observed the extreme close-in hot Jupiter system, WASP-12, with HST. Near-UV transits up to three times deeper than the optical transit of WASP-12b reveal extensive diffuse gas, extending well beyond the Roche lobe. The distribution of absorbing gas varies between visits. The deepest NUV transits are at wavelength ranges with strong photospheric absorption, implying the absorbing gas may have temperature and composition similar to the stellar photosphere. Our spectra reveal significantly enhanced absorption (greater than 3 \sigma below the median) at ~200 wavelengths on each of two HST visits; 65 of these wavelengths are consistent between the two visits, using a strict criterion for velocity matching which excludes matches with velocity shifts exceeding ~20 km/s. Excess transit depths are robustly detected throughout the inner wings of the MgII resonance lines independently on both HST visits. We detected absorption in FeII 2586A, the heaviest species yet detected in an exoplanet transit. The MgII line cores have zero flux, emission cores exhibited by every other observed star of similar age and spectral type are conspicuously absent. WASP-12 probably produces normal MgII profiles, but the inner portions of these strong resonance lines are likely affected by extrinsic absorption. The required Mg+ column is an order of magnitude greater than expected from the ISM, though we cannot completely dismiss that possibility. A more plausible source of absorption is gas lost by WASP-12b. We show that planetary mass loss can produce the required column. Our Visit 2 NUV light curves show evidence for a stellar flare. We show that some of the possible transit detections in resonance lines of rare elements may be due instead to non-resonant transitions in common species. We present optical observations and update the transit ephemeris.
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