Evidence for abnormal H$α$ variability during near-transit observations of HD 189733 b [EPA]


Changes in levels of stellar activity can mimic absorption signatures in transmission spectra from circumplanetary material. The frequency and magnitude of these changes is thus important to understand in order to attribute any particular signal to the circumplanetary environment. We present short-cadence, high-resolution out-of-transit H$\alpha$ spectra for the hot Jupiter host HD 189733 in order to establish the frequency and magnitude of intrinsic stellar variations in the H$\alpha$ line core. We find that changes in the line core strength similar to those observed immediately pre- and post-transit in two independent data sets are uncommon. This suggests that the observed near-transit signatures are either due to absorbing circumplanetary material or occur preferentially in time very near planetary transits. In either case, the evidence for abnormal H$\alpha$ variability is strengthened, although the short-cadence out-of-transit data do not argue for circumplanetary absorption versus stellar activity caused by a star-planet interaction. Further out-of-transit monitoring at higher signal-to-noise would be useful to more strictly constrain the frequency of the near-transit changes in the H$\alpha$ line core.

Read this paper on arXiv…

P. Cauley, S. Redfield and A. Jensen
Thu, 9 Mar 17

Comments: 9 pages, 8 figures, accepted to AJ on 03/06/2017