Astrophys. J., Suppl. Ser., 211, 9 (2014/March-0)
Fluctuations and flares in the ultraviolet line emission of cool stars: implications for exoplanet transit observations.
LOYD R.O.P. and FRANCE K.
Abstract (from CDS):
Variations in stellar flux can potentially overwhelm the photometric signal of a transiting planet. Such variability has not previously been well-characterized in the ultraviolet lines used to probe the inflated atmospheres surrounding hot Jupiters. Therefore, we surveyed 38 F-M stars for intensity variations in four narrow spectroscopic bands: two enclosing strong lines from species known to inhabit hot Jupiter atmospheres, C II λλ1334, 1335 and Si III λ1206; one enclosing Si IV λλ1393, 1402; and 36.5 Å of interspersed continuum. For each star/band combination, we generated 60 s cadence lightcurves from archival Hubble Space Telescope Cosmic Origins Spectrograph and Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph time-tagged photon data. Within these lightcurves, we characterized flares and stochastic fluctuations as separate forms of variability. Flares: we used a cross-correlation approach to detect 116 flares. These events occur in the time-series an average of once per 2.5 hr, over 50% last 4 minutes or less, and most produce the strongest response in Si IV. If the flare occurred during a transit measurement integrated for 60 minutes, 90/116 would destroy the signal of an Earth, 27/116 Neptune, and 7/116 Jupiter, with the upward bias in flux ranging from 1% to 109% of quiescent levels. Fluctuations: photon noise and underlying stellar fluctuations produce scatter in the quiescent data. We model the stellar fluctuations as Gaussian white noise with standard deviation σx. Maximum likelihood values of σx range from 1% to 41% for 60 s measurements. These values suggest that many cool stars will only permit a transit detection to high confidence in ultraviolet resonance lines if the radius of the occulting disk is ≳ 1 RJ. However, for some M dwarfs this limit can be as low as several R⊕.
planets and satellites: detection - stars: low-mass - ultraviolet: planetary systems - ultraviolet: stars
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<Available at CDS (J/ApJS/211/9): table1.dat table2.dat table4.dat table5.dat table6.dat table7.dat refs.dat>
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