GJ 1252b: A Hot Terrestrial Super-Earth with No Atmosphere

September 2022 • 2022ApJ...937L..17C

Authors • Crossfield, Ian J. M. • Malik, Matej • Hill, Michelle L. • Kane, Stephen R. • Foley, Bradford • Polanski, Alex S. • Coria, David • Brande, Jonathan • Zhang, Yanzhe • Wienke, Katherine • Kreidberg, Laura • Cowan, Nicolas B. • Dragomir, Diana • Gorjian, Varoujan • Mikal-Evans, Thomas • Benneke, Björn • Christiansen, Jessie L. • Deming, Drake • Morales, Farisa Y.

Abstract • In recent years, the discovery of increasing numbers of rocky, terrestrial exoplanets orbiting nearby stars has drawn increased attention to the possibility of studying these planets' atmospheric and surface properties. This is especially true for planets orbiting M dwarfs, whose properties can best be studied with existing observatories. In particular, the minerological composition of these planets and the extent to which they can retain their atmospheres in the face of intense stellar irradiation both remain unresolved. Here, we report the detection of the secondary eclipse of the terrestrial exoplanet GJ 1252b, obtained via 10 eclipse observations using the Spitzer Space Telescope's IRAC2 4.5 μm channel. We measure an eclipse depth of ${149}_{-32}^{+25}$ ppm, corresponding to a dayside brightness temperature of ${1410}_{-125}^{+91}$ K. This measurement is consistent with the prediction for a bare rock surface. Comparing the eclipse measurement to a large suite of simulated planetary spectra indicates that GJ 1252b has a surface pressure of ≲10 bar, i.e., substantially thinner than the atmosphere of Venus. Assuming energy-limited escape, even a 100 bar atmosphere would be lost in <1 Myr, far shorter than our gyrochronological age estimate of 3.9 ± 0.4 Gyr. The expected mass loss could be overcome by mantle outgassing, but only if the mantle's carbon content were >7% by mass-over two orders of magnitude greater than that found in Earth. We therefore conclude that GJ 1252b has no significant atmosphere. Model spectra with granitoid or feldspathic surface composition, but with no atmosphere, are disfavored at >2σ. The eclipse occurs just +1.4 ${}_{-1.0}^{+2.8}$ minutes after orbital phase 0.5, indicating $e\cos \omega $ = +0.0025 ${}_{-0.0018}^{+0.0049}$ , consistent with a circular orbit. Tidal heating is therefore likely to be negligible with regard to GJ 1252b's global energy budget. Finally, we also analyze additional, unpublished TESS transit photometry of GJ 1252b, which improves the precision of the transit ephemeris by a factor of 10, provides a more precise planetary radius of 1.180 ± 0.078 R , and rules out any transit-timing variations with amplitudes ≳1 minute.


IPAC Authors


Jessie Christiansen

Associate Scientist