The High Albedo of the Hot Jupiter Kepler-7 B
Author(s)Demory, Brice-Olivier; Seager, Sara
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Hot Jupiters are expected to be dark from both observations (albedo upper limits) and theory (alkali metals and/or TiO and VO absorption). However, only a handful of hot Jupiters have been observed with high enough photometric precision at visible wavelengths to investigate these expectations. The NASA Kepler mission provides a means to widen the sample and to assess the extent to which hot Jupiter albedos are low. We present a global analysis of Kepler-7 b based on Q0-Q4 data, published radial velocities, and asteroseismology constraints. We measure an occultation depth in the Kepler bandpass of 44 ± 5 ppm. If directly related to the albedo, this translates to a Kepler geometric albedo of 0.32 ± 0.03, the most precise value measured so far for an exoplanet. We also characterize the planetary orbital phase light curve with an amplitude of 42 ± 4 ppm. Using atmospheric models, we find it unlikely that the high albedo is due to a dominant thermal component and propose two solutions to explain the observed planetary flux. First, we interpret the Kepler-7 b albedo as resulting from an excess reflection over what can be explained solely by Rayleigh scattering, along with a nominal thermal component. This excess reflection might indicate the presence of a cloud or haze layer in the atmosphere, motivating new modeling and observational efforts. Alternatively, the albedo can be explained by Rayleigh scattering alone if Na and K are depleted in the atmosphere by a factor of 10-100 below solar abundances.
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences
Demory, Brice-Olivier et al. “The High Albedo of the Hot Jupiter Kepler-7 B.” The Astrophysical Journal 735.1 (2011): L12. © 2011 IOP Publishing
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