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VLT/FORS2 comparative transmission spectroscopy II: Confirmation of a cloud deck and Rayleigh scattering in WASP-31b, but no potassium?

Abstract : We present transmission spectroscopy of the hot-Jupiter WASP-31b using the FOcal Reducer and low dispersion Spectrograph 2 (FORS2) on the Very Large Telescope during two primary transits. The observations cover a wavelength range of ≈400-840 nm. The light curves are corrupted by significant systematics, but these were to first-order invariant with wavelength and could be removed using a common-mode correction derived from the white light curves. We reach a precision in the transit depth of ≈140 ppm in 15 nm bins, although the precision varies significantly over the wavelength range. Our FORS2 observations confirm the cloud deck previously inferred using Hubble Space Telescope (HST)/Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS). We also re-analyse the HST/STIS data using a Gaussian process model, finding excellent agreement with earlier measurements. We reproduce the Rayleigh scattering signature at short wavelengths (≲5300 Å) and the cloud deck at longer wavelengths. However, our FORS2 observations appear to rule out the large potassium feature previously detected using STIS, yet it is recovered from the HST/STIS data, although with reduced amplitude and significance (≈2.5σ). The discrepancy between our results and the earlier STIS detection of potassium (≈4.3σ) is either a result of telluric contamination of the ground-based observations, or an underestimate of the uncertainties for narrow-band features in HST/STIS when using linear basis models to account for the systematics. Our results further demonstrate the use of ground-based multi-object spectrographs for the study of exoplanet atmospheres, and highlight the need for caution in our interpretation of narrow-band features in low-resolution spectra of hot Jupiters.
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https://hal-insu.archives-ouvertes.fr/insu-03747463
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Submitted on : Monday, August 8, 2022 - 1:54:08 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, August 9, 2022 - 3:44:59 AM

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Neale P. Gibson, Nikolay Nikolov, David K. Sing, Joanna K. Barstow, Thomas M. Evans, et al.. VLT/FORS2 comparative transmission spectroscopy II: Confirmation of a cloud deck and Rayleigh scattering in WASP-31b, but no potassium?. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 2017, 467, pp.4591-4605. ⟨10.1093/mnras/stx353⟩. ⟨insu-03747463⟩

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