Exploring the Atmospheric Dynamics of the Extreme Ultrahot Jupiter KELT-9b Using TESS Photometry

August 2020 • 2020AJ....160...88W

Authors • Wong, Ian • Shporer, Avi • Kitzmann, Daniel • Morris, Brett M. • Heng, Kevin • Hoeijmakers, H. Jens • Demory, Brice-Olivier • Ahlers, John P. • Mansfield, Megan • Bean, Jacob L. • Daylan, Tansu • Fetherolf, Tara • Rodriguez, Joseph E. • Benneke, Björn • Ricker, George R. • Latham, David W. • Vanderspek, Roland • Seager, Sara • Winn, Joshua N. • Jenkins, Jon M. • Burke, Christopher J. • Christiansen, Jessie L. • Essack, Zahra • Rose, Mark E. • Smith, Jeffrey C. • Tenenbaum, Peter • Yahalomi, Daniel

Abstract • We carry out a phase-curve analysis of the KELT-9 system using photometric observations from NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS). The measured secondary eclipse depth and peak-to-peak atmospheric brightness modulation are ${650}_{-15}^{+14}$ and 566 ± 16 ppm, respectively. The planet's brightness variation reaches maximum 31 ± 5 minutes before the midpoint of the secondary eclipse, indicating a 5°2 ± 0°9 eastward shift in the dayside hot spot from the substellar point. We also detect stellar pulsations on KELT-9 with a period of 7.58695 ± 0.00091 hr. The dayside emission of KELT-9b in the TESS bandpass is consistent with a blackbody brightness temperature of 4600 ± 100 K. The corresponding nightside brightness temperature is 3040 ± 100 K, comparable to the dayside temperatures of the hottest known exoplanets. In addition, we detect a significant phase-curve signal at the first harmonic of the orbital frequency and a marginal signal at the second harmonic. While the amplitude of the first harmonic component is consistent with the predicted ellipsoidal distortion modulation assuming equilibrium tides, the phase of this photometric variation is shifted relative to the expectation. Placing KELT-9b in the context of other exoplanets with phase-curve observations, we find that the elevated nightside temperature and relatively low day-night temperature contrast agree with the predictions of atmospheric models that include H2 dissociation and recombination. The nightside temperature of KELT-9b implies an atmospheric composition containing about 50% molecular and 50% atomic hydrogen at 0.1 bar, a nightside emission spectrum that deviates significantly from a blackbody, and a 0.5-2.0 μm transmission spectrum that is featureless at low resolution.


IPAC Authors


Jessie Christiansen

Associate Scientist