A Framework for Characterizing Transmission Spectra of Exoplanets with Circumplanetary Rings.
OHNO K. and FORTNEY J.J.
Abstract (from CDS):
Recent observations revealed that several extremely low-density exoplanets show featureless transmission spectra. While atmospheric aerosols are a promising explanation for both the low-density and featureless spectra, there is another attractive possibility: the presence of circumplanetary rings. Previous studies suggested that rings cause anomalously large transit radii. However, it remains poorly understood how rings affect the transmission spectrum. Here, we provide a framework to characterize the transmission spectra of ringed exoplanets. We develop an analytical prescription to include rings in the transmission spectra for arbitrarily viewing geometries. We also establish a simple postprocessing model that can include the ring's effects on precomputed ring-free spectra. The ring flattens the transmission spectrum for a wide range of viewing geometries, consistent with the featureless spectra of extremely low-density exoplanets. Near-future observations by the James Webb Space Telescope at longer wavelengths would be able to distinguish the aerosol and ring scenarios. We also find that rocky rings might cause a silicate feature at ∼10 µm if the ring's optical depth is around unity. Thus, the ring's spectral features, if detected, would provide tight constrains on the physical properties of exoplanetary rings. We also discuss the ring's stability and suggest that thick rings are sustainable only at the equilibrium temperature of <=300 K for the ring's age comparable to Kepler planets. This might indicate the intrinsic deficit of thick rings in the Kepler samples, unless rings are much younger than the planets as suggested for Saturn.