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Thermal Variations of Extremely Close-in Exoplanets

Published onJun 01, 2020
Thermal Variations of Extremely Close-in Exoplanets

High precision exoplanet light curves offer the opportunity for detailed characterization far beyond estimating the radius and orbital period of exoplanets and are now able to estimate parameters such as reflectivity and temperature. Such details provide information about the planet’s composition and potential habitability. Currently, only very hot exoplanets have had their temperatures directly estimated and exoplanet heat maps are just beginning to be developed. One method of characterizing the temperature distribution of an exoplanet assumes that the exoplanet may be treated as having only two distinct temperatures, one for the dayside and one for the nightside. In such a model, each side of the exoplanet emits thermal radiation like a blackbody at a constant temperature. I seek to employ a new method of characterizing the thermal emissions of exoplanets by considering N temperature zones, as opposed to the much coarser dayside/nightside model. The zones make up a series of rings centered along the line connecting the center of the exoplanet to the center of its host star. Each ring will be treated as a blackbody of constant temperature and the zone with the greatest temperature will be that closest to the host star. The new model will be used to characterize a set of hot exoplanets and a comparison of the new model to the former dayside/nightside model will be made to determine the precision necessary to differentiate the two models using light curve data.

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