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Journal Articles Science Year : 2018

Spectrally resolved helium absorption from the extended atmosphere of a warm Neptune-mass exoplanet

R. Allart
  • Function : Author
V. Bourrier
  • Function : Author
C. Lovis
  • Function : Author
D. Ehrenreich
  • Function : Author
J. J. Spake
  • Function : Author
A. Wyttenbach
  • Function : Author
L. Pino
  • Function : Author
F. Pepe
  • Function : Author
D. K. Sing
  • Function : Author

Abstract

Stellar heating causes atmospheres of close-in exoplanets to expand and escape. These extended atmospheres are difficult to observe because their main spectral signature—neutral hydrogen at ultraviolet wavelengths—is strongly absorbed by interstellar medium. We report the detection of the near-infrared triplet of neutral helium in the transiting warm Neptune-mass exoplanet HAT-P-11b by using ground-based, high-resolution observations. The helium feature is repeatable over two independent transits, with an average absorption depth of 1.08 ± 0.05%. Interpreting absorption spectra with three-dimensional simulations of the planet’s upper atmosphere suggests that it extends beyond 5 planetary radii, with a large-scale height and a helium mass loss rate of ≲3 × 105 grams per second. A net blue-shift of the absorption might be explained by high-altitude winds flowing at 3 kilometers per second from day to night-side.

Dates and versions

insu-03747674 , version 1 (08-08-2022)

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R. Allart, V. Bourrier, C. Lovis, D. Ehrenreich, J. J. Spake, et al.. Spectrally resolved helium absorption from the extended atmosphere of a warm Neptune-mass exoplanet. Science, 2018, 362, pp.1384-1387. ⟨10.1126/science.aat5879⟩. ⟨insu-03747674⟩
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