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Polarized Signatures of a Habitable World: Comparing Models of an Exoplanet-Earth with VNIR Earthshine Spectra

Presentation #102.408 in the session Poster Session.

Published onJun 20, 2022
Polarized Signatures of a Habitable World: Comparing Models of an Exoplanet-Earth with VNIR Earthshine Spectra

In the James Webb Space Telescope and Extremely Large Telescopes era we expect to characterize a number of potentially habitable Earth-like exoplanets. However, the characterization of these worlds depends crucially on the accuracy of theoretical models. Validating these models against observations of planets with known properties will be key for the future characterization of terrestrial exoplanets. Due to its sensitivity to the micro- and macro-physical properties of an atmosphere, spectropolarimetry will be an important tool that in tandem with traditional flux-only observations will enhance the capabilities of characterizing Earth-like planets. In this presentation we benchmark two separate polarization-enabled radiative transfer codes against each other and against unique linear spectropolarimetric observations of the Earthshine (i.e., sunlight scattered by the dayside of the Earth and reflected back to the planet by the nightside of the Moon) that cover wavelengths from ~ 0.4 μm to ~ 2.3 μm. We find that the results from the two codes agree with each other but both underestimate the level of polarization of the Earthshine. We discuss how we plan to update the two codes to better fit the observations. We also report an interesting discrepancy between our models and the observed 1.27 μm O2 feature in the Earthshine, together with an analysis of potential methods for matching this feature and a discussion on the implications this has for future observations of habitable exoplanets.

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