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  1. Abstract Early in their lives, planets endure extreme amounts of ionizing radiation from their host stars. For planets with primordial hydrogen and helium-rich envelopes, this can lead to substantial mass loss. Direct observations of atmospheric escape in young planetary systems can help elucidate this critical stage of planetary evolution. In this work, we search for metastable helium absorption—a tracer of tenuous gas in escaping atmospheres—during transits of three planets orbiting the young solar analog V1298 Tau. We characterize the stellar helium line using HET/HPF, and find that it evolves substantially on timescales of days to months. The line is stablemore »on hour-long timescales except for one set of spectra taken during the decay phase of a stellar flare, where absoprtion increased with time. Utilizing a beam-shaping diffuser and a narrowband filter centered on the helium feature, we observe four transits with Palomar/WIRC: two partial transits of planet d ( P = 12.4 days), one partial transit of planet b ( P = 24.1 days), and one full transit of planet c ( P = 8.2 days). We do not detect the transit of planet c, and we find no evidence of excess absorption for planet b, with Δ R b / R ⋆ < 0.019 in our bandpass. We find a tentative absorption signal for planet d with Δ R d / R ⋆ = 0.0205 ± 0.054, but the best-fit model requires a substantial (−100 ± 14 minutes) transit-timing offset on a two-month timescale. Nevertheless, our data suggest that V1298 Tau d may have a high present-day mass-loss rate, making it a priority target for follow-up observations.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 1, 2022
  2. Abstract We present the validation of a transiting low-density exoplanet orbiting the M2.5 dwarf TOI 620 discovered by the NASA Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) mission. We utilize photometric data from both TESS and ground-based follow-up observations to validate the ephemerides of the 5.09 day transiting signal and vet false-positive scenarios. High-contrast imaging data are used to resolve the stellar host and exclude stellar companions at separations ≳0.″2. We obtain follow-up spectroscopy and corresponding precise radial velocities (RVs) with multiple precision radial velocity (PRV) spectrographs to confirm the planetary nature of the transiting exoplanet. We calculate a 5 σ uppermore »limit of M P < 7.1 M ⊕ and ρ P < 0.74 g cm −3 , and we identify a nontransiting 17.7 day candidate. We also find evidence for a substellar (1–20 M J ) companion with a projected separation ≲20 au from a combined analysis of Gaia, adaptive optics imaging, and RVs. With the discovery of this outer companion, we carry out a detailed exploration of the possibilities that TOI 620 b might instead be a circum-secondary planet or a pair of eclipsing binary stars orbiting the host in a hierarchical triple system. We find, under scrutiny, that we can exclude both of these scenarios from the multiwavelength transit photometry, thus validating TOI 620 b as a low-density exoplanet transiting the central star in this system. The low density of TOI 620 b makes it one of the most amenable exoplanets for atmospheric characterization, such as with the James Webb Space Telescope and Ariel, validated or confirmed by the TESS mission to date.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 16, 2023
  3. Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 27, 2022
  4. We present the discovery of TOI-1518b -- an ultra-hot Jupiter orbiting a bright star $V = 8.95$. The transiting planet is confirmed using high-resolution optical transmission spectra from EXPRES. It is inflated, with $R_p = 1.875\pm0.053\,R_{\rm J}$, and exhibits several interesting properties, including a misaligned orbit (${240.34^{+0.93}_{-0.98}}$ degrees) and nearly grazing transit ($b =0.9036^{+0.0061}_{-0.0053}$). The planet orbits a fast-rotating F0 host star ($T_{\mathrm{eff}} \simeq 7300$ K) in 1.9 days and experiences intense irradiation. Notably, the TESS data show a clear secondary eclipse with a depth of $364\pm28$ ppm and a significant phase curve signal, from which we obtain a relativemore »day-night planetary flux difference of roughly 320 ppm and a 5.2$\sigma$ detection of ellipsoidal distortion on the host star. Prompted by recent detections of atomic and ionized species in ultra-hot Jupiter atmospheres, we conduct an atmospheric cross-correlation analysis. We detect neutral iron (${5.2\sigma}$), at $K_p = 157^{+68}_{-44}$ km s$^{-1}$ and $V_{\rm sys} = -16^{+2}_{-4}$ km s$^{-1}$, adding another object to the small sample of highly irradiated gas-giant planets with Fe detections in transmission. Detections so far favor particularly inflated gas giants with radii $rsim 1.78\,R_{\rm J}$; although this may be due to observational bias. With an equilibrium temperature of $T_{\rm eq}=2492\pm38$ K and a measured dayside brightness temperature of $3237\pm59$ K (assuming zero geometric albedo), TOI-1518b is a promising candidate for future emission spectroscopy to probe for a thermal inversion.« less