FORS2 observes a multi-epoch transmission spectrum of the hot Saturn-mass exoplanet WASP-49b [EPA]

Context: Transmission spectroscopy has proven to be a useful tool for the study of exoplanet atmospheres, and has lead to the detection of a small number of elements and molecules (Na, K, H$_2$O), but also revealed that many planets show flat transmission spectra consistent with the presence of opaque high-altitude hazes or clouds.
Aims: We apply this technique to the $M_P=0.38 M_{jup}$, $R_p=1.12 R_{jup}$, $P=2.78d$ planet WASP-49b, aiming to characterize its transmission spectrum between 0.73 and 1 $\mathrm{\mu}$m and search for the features of K and H$_2$O.
Methods: Three transits of WASP-49b have been observed with the FORS2 instrument installed at the VLT/UT1 telescope at the ESO Paranal site. We used FORS2’s MXU mode with grism GRIS_600z, producing simultaneous multi-wavelength transit lightcurves throughout the i’ and z’ bands. We combined these data with independent broadband photometry from the Euler and TRAPPIST telescopes to obtain a good measurement of the transit shape. Strong correlated noise structures are present in the FORS2 lightcurves due to rotating flat field structures that are introduced by inhomogeneities of the linear atmospheric dispersion corrector’s transparency. We account for these structures by constructing common noise models from the residuals of lightcurves bearing the same noise structures, and use these together with simple parametric models for the inference of the transmission spectrum.
Results: We present three independent transmission spectra of WASP-49b between 0.73 and 1.02 $\mu m$, as well as a transmission spectrum between 0.65 and 1.02 $\mu m$ from the combined analysis of FORS2 and broadband data. The results obtained from the three individual epochs agree well. The transmission spectrum of WASP-49b is best fit by atmospheric models containing a cloud deck at pressure levels of 1 mbar or less.

Read this paper on arXiv…

M. Lendl, L. Delrez, M. Gillon, et. al.
Tue, 22 Dec 15

Comments: accepted for publication in A&A