DEMORY B.-O., GILLON M., MADHUSUDHAN N. and QUELOZ D.
Abstract (from CDS):
Considerable progress has been made in recent years in observations of atmospheric signatures of giant exoplanets, but processes in rocky exoplanets remain largely unknown due to major challenges in observing small planets. Numerous efforts to observe spectra of super-Earths, exoplanets with masses of 1-10 Earth masses, have thus far revealed only featureless spectra. In this paper, we report a 4σ detection of variability in the dayside thermal emission from the transiting super-Earth 55 Cancri e. Dedicated space-based monitoring of the planet in the mid-infrared over eight eclipses revealed the thermal emission from its dayside atmosphere varying by a factor of 3.7 between 2012 and 2013. The amplitude and trend of the variability are not explained by potential influence of star spots or by local thermal or compositional changes in the atmosphere over the short span of the observations. The possibility of large-scale surface activity due to strong tidal interactions possibly similar to Io, or the presence of circumstellar/circumplanetary material appear plausible and motivate future long-term monitoring of the planet.