Optimizing Atmospheric Characterization via Transmission Spectroscopy

discovering and studying new worlds to consolidate our understanding of planets and habitats. 

Mitigating Biases and Uncertainties from Opacity and Atmospheric Models

Tools used in Quest: JWST

"We are exploring the theory behind transmission spectroscopy, and the impact cross-section generation in order to understand the biases introduced . This is a theoretical project that intends  to use JWST data once it is available. For cross-section generation, we use hapi, that generates cross-section from HITRAN database."​

                                                   - Prajwal Niraula, Graduate Student

""To understand planets beyond our own, we will need to not just observe their atmospheric spectra but correctly interpret them, which in turn requires that we understand the spectral consequences of every significant atmospheric molecule. There are thousands of molecular candidates that could contribute towards any given astronomical spectrum. However, spectral data exist for only a few hundred gases and merely a fraction of those have complete spectra (e.g., CH4, O2, H2O). This incompleteness in the knowledge of molecules presents an extremely pressing vulnerability in observational astronomy." 

- Clara Sousa-Silva, Research Scientist

Related Papers:

"Molecular simulations for the spectroscopic detection of atmospheric gases" - https://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlehtml/2019/cp/c8cp07057a

Mitigating Contamination for Host Stars

"Fully realizing the promise of transmission spectroscopy requires that we disentangle the spectral signals of the planetary atmosphere from those of spots and faculae on the host star. A focus of our group is studying the extent of this issue and finding solutions that will enable the best use of precise transmission spectra for studying planetary atmospheres."​

                                             - Benjamin Rackham,  Postdoctoral Fellow

Related Papers:

"ACCESS I: An Optical Transmission Spectrum of GJ 1214b Reveals a Heterogeneous Stellar Photosphere" - https://ui.adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2017ApJ...834..151R/abstract

"The Transit Light Source Effect: False Spectral Features and Incorrect Densities for M-dwarf Transiting Planets" - https://ui.adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2018ApJ...853..122R/abstract

"The Transit Light Source Effect. II. The Impact of Stellar Heterogeneity on Transmission Spectra of Planets Orbiting Broadly Sun-like Stars" - https://ui.adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2019AJ....157...96R/abstract

"ACCESS: a featureless optical transmission spectrum for WASP-19b from Magellan/IMACS" - https://ui.adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2019MNRAS.482.2065E/abstract

"Retrieval of planetary and stellar properties in transmission spectroscopy with AURA" - https://ui.adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2018MNRAS.480.5314P/abstract

Background Photo Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. Hurt, T. Pyle (IPAC)