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  1. Abstract

    Atmospheric escape shapes the fate of exoplanets, with statistical evidence for transformative mass loss imprinted across the mass–radius–insolation distribution. Here, we present transit spectroscopy of the highly irradiated, low-gravity, inflated hot Saturn HAT-P-67 b. The Habitable Zone Planet Finder spectra show a detection of up to 10% absorption depth of the 10833 Å helium triplet. The 13.8 hr of on-sky integration time over 39 nights sample the entire planet orbit, uncovering excess helium absorption preceding the transit by up to 130 planetary radii in a large leading tail. This configuration can be understood as the escaping material overflowing its small Roche lobe and advecting most of the gas into the stellar—and not planetary—rest frame, consistent with the Doppler velocity structure seen in the helium line profiles. The prominent leading tail serves as direct evidence for dayside mass loss with a strong day-/nightside asymmetry. We see some transit-to-transit variability in the line profile, consistent with the interplay of stellar and planetary winds. We employ one-dimensional Parker wind models to estimate the mass-loss rate, finding values on the order of 2 × 1013g s−1, with large uncertainties owing to the unknown X-ray and ultraviolet (XUV) flux of the F host star. The large mass loss in HAT-P-67 b represents a valuable example of an inflated hot Saturn, a class of planets recently identified to be rare, as their atmospheres are predicted to evaporate quickly. We contrast two physical mechanisms for runaway evaporation: ohmic dissipation and XUV irradiation, slightly favoring the latter.

     
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  2. Abstract

    AF Lep A+b is a remarkable planetary system hosting a gas-giant planet that has the lowest dynamical mass among directly imaged exoplanets. We present an in-depth analysis of the atmospheric composition of the star and planet to probe the planet’s formation pathway. Based on new high-resolution spectroscopy of AF Lep A, we measure a uniform set of stellar parameters and elemental abundances (e.g., [Fe/H] = −0.27 ± 0.31 dex). The planet’s dynamical mass (2.80.5+0.6MJup) and orbit are also refined using published radial velocities, relative astrometry, and absolute astrometry. We usepetitRADTRANSto perform chemically consistent atmospheric retrievals for AF Lep b. The radiative–convective equilibrium temperature profiles are incorporated as parameterized priors on the planet’s thermal structure, leading to a robust characterization for cloudy self-luminous atmospheres. This novel approach is enabled by constraining the temperature–pressure profiles via the temperature gradient(dlnT/dlnP), a departure from previous studies that solely modeled the temperature. Through multiple retrievals performed on different portions of the 0.9–4.2μm spectrophotometry, along with different priors on the planet’s mass and radius, we infer that AF Lep b likely possesses a metal-enriched atmosphere ([Fe/H] > 1.0 dex). AF Lep b’s potential metal enrichment may be due to planetesimal accretion, giant impacts, and/or core erosion. The first process coincides with the debris disk in the system, which could be dynamically excited by AF Lep b and lead to planetesimal bombardment. Our analysis also determinesTeff≈ 800 K,log(g)3.7dex, and the presence of silicate clouds and disequilibrium chemistry in the atmosphere. Straddling the L/T transition, AF Lep b is thus far the coldest exoplanet with suggested evidence of silicate clouds.

     
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 17, 2024
  3. Abstract

    Constraining L dwarf properties from their spectra is challenging. Near-infrared (NIR) spectra probe a limited range of pressures, while many species condense within their photospheres. Condensation creates two complexities: gas-phase species “rain out” (decreasing in abundances by many orders of magnitude) and clouds form. We designed tests using synthetic data to determine the best approach for retrieving L dwarf spectra, isolating the challenges in the absence of cloud opacity. We conducted atmospheric retrievals on synthetic cloud-free L dwarf spectra derived from the Sonora Bobcat models at SpeX resolution using a variety of thermal and chemical abundance profile parameterizations. For objects hotter than L5 (Teff∼ 1700 K), the limited pressure layers probed in the NIR are mostly convective; parameterized pressure–temperature (PT) profiles bias results and free, unsmoothed profiles should be used. Only when many layers both above and below the radiative-convective boundary are probed can parameterized profiles provide accurate results. Furthermore, a nonuniform abundance profile for FeH is needed to accurately retrieve bulk properties of early-to-mid L dwarfs. Nonuniform prescriptions for other gases in NIR retrievals may also be warranted near the L/T transition (CH4) and early Y dwarfs (Na and K). We demonstrate the utility of using realistic, self-consistent models to benchmark retrievals and suggest how they can be used in the future.

     
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  4. Abstract

    Comparison of échelle spectra to synthetic models has become a computational statistics challenge, with over 10,000 individual spectral lines affecting a typical cool star échelle spectrum. Telluric artifacts, imperfect line lists, inexact continuum placement, and inflexible models frustrate the scientific promise of these information-rich data sets. Here we debut an interpretable machine-learning frameworkblaséthat addresses these and other challenges. The semiempirical approach can be viewed as “transfer learning”—first pretraining models on noise-free precomputed synthetic spectral models, then learning the corrections to line depths and widths from whole-spectrum fitting to an observed spectrum. The auto-differentiable model employs back-propagation, the fundamental algorithm empowering modern deep learning and neural networks. Here, however, the 40,000+ parameters symbolize physically interpretable line profile properties such as amplitude, width, location, and shape, plus radial velocity and rotational broadening. This hybrid data-/model-driven framework allows joint modeling of stellar and telluric lines simultaneously, a potentially transformative step forward for mitigating the deleterious telluric contamination in the near-infrared. Theblaséapproach acts as both a deconvolution tool and semiempirical model. The general-purpose scaffolding may be extensible to many scientific applications, including precision radial velocities, Doppler imaging, chemical abundances for Galactic archeology, line veiling, magnetic fields, and remote sensing. Its sparse-matrix architecture and GPU acceleration makeblaséfast. The open-source PyTorch-based codeblaseincludes tutorials, Application Programming Interface documentation, and more. We show how the tool fits into the existing Python spectroscopy ecosystem, demonstrate a range of astrophysical applications, and discuss limitations and future extensions.

     
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  5. Long-baseline monitoring of the HAT-P-32Ab system reveals helium escaping through tidal tails 50 times the size of the planet. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 9, 2024
  6. Abstract The photometric and spectral variability of brown dwarfs probes heterogeneous temperature and cloud distributions and traces the atmospheric circulation patterns. We present a new 42 hr Hubble Space Telescope (HST) Wide Field Camera 3 G141 spectral time series of VHS 1256-1257 b, a late L-type planetary-mass companion that has been shown to have one of the highest variability amplitudes among substellar objects. The light curve is rapidly evolving and best fit by a combination of three sine waves with different periods and a linear trend. The amplitudes of the sine waves and the linear slope vary with the wavelength, and the corresponding spectral variability patterns match the predictions by models invoking either heterogeneous clouds or thermal profile anomalies. Combining these observations with previous HST monitoring data, we find that the peak-to-valley flux difference is 33% ± 2% with an even higher amplitude reaching 38% in the J band, the highest amplitude ever observed in a substellar object. The observed light curve can be explained by maps that are composed of zonal waves, spots, or a mixture of the two. Distinguishing the origin of rapid light curve evolution requires additional long-term monitoring. Our findings underscore the essential role of atmospheric dynamics in shaping brown-dwarf atmospheres and highlight VHS 1256-1257 b as one of the most favorable targets for studying the atmospheres, clouds, and atmospheric circulation of planets and brown dwarfs. 
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  7. Abstract We present the third discovery from the COol Companions ON Ultrawide orbiTS (COCONUTS) program, the COCONUTS-3 system, composed of the young M5 primary star UCAC4 374−046899 and the very red L6 dwarf WISEA J081322.19−152203.2. These two objects have a projected separation of 61 ′ ′ (1891 au) and are physically associated given their common proper motions and estimated distances. The primary star, COCONUTS-3A, has a mass of 0.123 ± 0.006 M ⊙ , and we estimate its age as 100 Myr to 1 Gyr based on its stellar activity (via H α and X-ray emission), kinematics, and spectrophotometric properties. We derive its bulk metallicity as 0.21 ± 0.07 dex using empirical calibrations established by older and higher-gravity M dwarfs and find that this [Fe/H] could be slightly underestimated according to PHOENIX models given COCONUTS-3A’s younger age. The companion, COCONUTS-3B, has a near-infrared spectral type of L6 ± 1 int-g , and we infer physical properties of T eff = 1362 − 73 + 48 K, log ( g ) = 4.96 − 0.34 + 0.15 dex, R = 1.03 − 0.06 + 0.12 R Jup , and M = 39 − 18 + 11 M Jup using its bolometric luminosity, its host star’s age, and hot-start evolution models. We construct cloudy atmospheric model spectra at the evolution-based physical parameters and compare them to COCONUTS-3B’s spectrophotometry. We find that this companion possesses ample condensate clouds in its photosphere ( f sed = 1) with the data–model discrepancies likely due to the models using an older version of the opacity database. Compared to field-age L6 dwarfs, COCONUTS-3B has fainter absolute magnitudes and a 120 K cooler T eff . Also, the J − K color of this companion is among the reddest for ultracool benchmarks with ages older than a few hundred megayears. COCONUTS-3 likely formed in the same fashion as stellar binaries given the companion-to-host mass ratio of 0.3 and represents a valuable benchmark to quantify the systematics of substellar model atmospheres. 
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  8. Abstract

    We present an atmospheric retrieval analysis of a pair of highly variable, ∼200 Myr old, early T type planetary-mass exoplanet analogs SIMP J01365662+0933473 and 2MASS J21392676+0220226 using the Brewster retrieval framework. Our analysis, which makes use of archival 1–15μm spectra, finds almost identical atmospheres for both objects. For both targets, we find that the data is best described by a patchy, high-altitude forsterite (Mg2SiO4) cloud above a deeper, optically thick iron (Fe) cloud. Our model constrains the cloud properties well, including the cloud locations and cloud particle sizes. We find that the patchy forsterite slab cloud inferred from our retrieval may be responsible for the spectral behavior of the observed variability. Our retrieved cloud structure is consistent with the atmospheric structure previously inferred from spectroscopic variability measurements, but clarifies this picture significantly. We find consistent C/O ratios for both objects, which supports their formation within the same molecular cloud in the Carina-Near moving group. Finally, we note some differences in the constrained abundances of H2O and CO, which may be caused by data quality and/or astrophysical processes such as auroral activity and their differing rotation rates. The results presented in this work provide a promising preview of the detail with which we will characterize extrasolar atmospheres with JWST, which will yield higher-quality spectra across a wider wavelength range.

     
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