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Hubble WFC3 Transmission Spectroscopy of the Habitable Zone Super-Earth LHS 1140 b

Presentation #1038 in the session “Open Engagement Session A”.

Published onMar 17, 2021
Hubble WFC3 Transmission Spectroscopy of the Habitable Zone Super-Earth LHS 1140 b

Atmospheric characterisation of temperate, rocky planets is the holy grail of exoplanet studies. These worlds are at the limits of our capabilities with current instrumentation in transmission spectroscopy and challenge our state-of-the-art statistical techniques.

I will present the transmission spectrum of the temperate Super-Earth LHS 1140 b, obtained using the Hubble Space Telescope (HST). The Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) G141 grism data of this habitable zone (T = 235 K) Super-Earth (R = 1.7 RE) shows tentative evidence of water. However, the signal-to-noise ratio, and thus the significance of the detection, is low and stellar contamination models can cause modulation over the spectral band probed. We attempted to correct for contamination using these models and found that, while many still lead to evidence for water, some could provide reasonable fits to the data without the need for molecular absorption although most of these cause also features in the visible ground-based data which are nonphysical. Future observations with the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) should be capable of confirming, or refuting, this atmospheric detection.


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