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Small but mighty: High-resolution spectroscopy of ultra-hot Jupiter atmospheres with compact telescopes

Presentation #624.05 in the session Planetary Atmospheres - Hot Jupiters.

Published onApr 03, 2024
Small but mighty: High-resolution spectroscopy of ultra-hot Jupiter atmospheres with compact telescopes

We live in a world where larger telescopes often command the spotlight of atmospheric observations of exoplanet atmospheres. Only a meagre amount of work has utilised smaller 2-m class telescopes to study these systems. Yet, the silent potential of smaller telescopes on solitary observatory sites like Wendelstein with its FOCES spectrograph, sits awaiting recognition. This study elucidates that smaller telescopes, under favourable conditions, can produce data of comparable quality as larger facilities for ultra-hot Jupiters (UHJs). Through a performance comparison employing the HARPS-N spectrograph on the Telescopio Nazionale Galileo (TNG) as a benchmark, we reveal that given sufficient observing time, the 2.1m telescope at Wendelstein Observatory can indeed compete on the same stage as these larger facilities, thereby expanding the scope for potential studies. Using this facility, we observed transits of the UHJ KELT-9b, detecting seven atmospheric species: Ti II, Fe I, Fe II, Na I, Mg I, Na II, Cr II, Sc II. Our results broaden the horizon for potential observations of UHJs using smaller facilities, enabling more time-intensive observations such as examining temporal variations in atmospheric signals and atmospheric loss characteristics of close-in planets to name a few. The implication of this study calls for a revaluation of the perceived capabilities of 2-m class telescopes, advocating for a more inclusive observational paradigm that embraces the diverse array of astronomical facilities regardless of size, thus enriching the narrative of exoplanetary atmospheric studies.

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