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Detectability of planetesimal impacts on giant exoplanets

By Laura Flagg, Alycia J. Weinberger and Keith Matthews

Abstract

The detectability of planetesimal impacts on imaged exoplanets can be measured using Jupiter during the 1994 comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 events as a proxy. By integrating the whole planet flux with and without impact spots, the effect of the impacts at wavelengths from 2 to 4 μμm is revealed. Jupiter’s reflected light spectrum in the near-infrared is dominated by its methane opacity including a deep band at 2.3 μμm. After the impact, sunlight that would have normally been absorbed by the large amount of methane in Jupiter’s atmosphere was instead reflected by the cometary material from the impacts. As a result, at 2.3 μμm, where the planet would normally have low reflectivity, it brightened substantially and stayed brighter for at least a month

Publisher: 'Elsevier BV'
Year: 2016
OAI identifier: oai:authors.library.caltech.edu:63318

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