Transmission Spectroscopy

September 1st, 2011 Comments Off
Transmission Spectroscopy

Transmission spectroscopy is a technique used to gather details about the chemical composition and the extent of the atmosphere of a transiting exoplanet. As the light from the host star passes through the atmosphere of the planet, some of the light is absorbed by the atoms, molecules or grains present in the atmosphere, making the exoplanet appear bigger. A plot of the size of the exoplanet as a function of wavelength gives a transmission spectrum. The shape of the transmission spectrum itself then can indicate which components are present in the atmosphere. An example of a transmission spectrum is shown below.

Transmission spectroscopy has been used to extensively to study the atmospheres of HD 209458 b and HD 189733 b amongst many other transiting planets.


Planetary atmospheres in 2010
The transmission spectrum of the Super-Earth GJ 1214 b

About Paul Anthony Wilson

Paul Anthony Wilson
Editor of Observational exoplanet astronomer studying the atmospheres of exoplanets. Interested in public outreach and conveying my interest in astronomy to others. Follow me on Twitter.


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