H- and dissociation in ultra-hot Jupiters: a retrieval case study of WASP-18b.
GANDHI S., MADHUSUDHAN N. and MANDELL A.
Abstract (from CDS):
Atmospheres of a number of ultra-hot Jupiters (UHJs) with temperatures >=2000 K have been observed recently. Many of these planets show largely featureless thermal spectra in the near-infrared observed with the HST WFC3 spectrograph (1.1-1.7 µm) even though this spectral range contains strong H2O opacity. Recent works have proposed the possibility of H- opacity masking the H2O feature and/or thermal dissociation of H2O causing its apparent depletion at the high temperatures of UHJs. In this work, we test these hypotheses using observations of the exoplanet WASP-18b as a case study. We report detailed atmospheric retrievals of the planet using the HyDRA retrieval code, extended to include the effects of H- opacity and thermal dissociation. We report constraints on the H2O, CO, and H- abundances as well as the pressure-temperature profile of the dayside atmosphere for retrievals with and without H-/dissociation for each data set. We find that the H2O and H- abundances are relatively unconstrained given the featureless WFC3 spectra. We do not conclusively detect H- in the planet, contrary to previous studies that used equilibrium models to infer its presence. The constraint on the CO abundance depends on the combination of WFC3 and Spitzer data, ranging from solar to super-solar CO values. We additionally see signs of a thermal inversion from two of the data sets. Our study demonstrates the potential of atmospheric retrievals of UHJs, including the effects of H- and thermal dissociation of molecules.