Astron. J., 161, 122-122 (2021/March-0)
Earth as a proxy exoplanet: deconstructing and reconstructing spectrophotometric light curves.
GU L., FAN S., LI J., BARTLETT S.J., NATRAJ V., JIANG J.H., CRISP D., HU Y., TINETTI G. and YUNG Y.L.
Abstract (from CDS):
Point-source spectrophotometric (single-point) light curves of Earth-like planets contain a surprising amount of information about the spatial features of those worlds. Spatially resolving these light curves is important for assessing time-varying surface features and the existence of an atmosphere, which in turn is critical to life on Earth and significant for determining habitability on exoplanets. Given that Earth is the only celestial body confirmed to harbor life, treating it as a proxy exoplanet by analyzing time-resolved spectral images provides a benchmark in the search for habitable exoplanets. The Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC) on the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) provides such an opportunity, with observations of ∼5000 full-disk sunlit Earth images each year at 10 wavelengths with high temporal frequency. We disk-integrate these spectral images to create single-point light curves and decompose them into principal components (PCs). Using machine-learning techniques to relate the PCs to six preselected spatial features, we find that the first and fourth PCs of the single-point light curves, contributing ∼83.23% of the light-curve variability, contain information about low and high clouds, respectively. Surface information relevant to the contrast between land and ocean reflectance is contained in the second PC, while individual land subtypes are not easily distinguishable (<0.1% total light-curve variation). We build an Earth model by systematically altering the spatial features to derive causal relationships to the PCs. This model can serve as a baseline for analyzing Earth-like exoplanets and guide wavelength selection and sampling strategies for future observations.
© 2021. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.
Exoplanet astronomy - Exoplanet atmospheres - Exoplanet surfaces - Exoplanets - Exoplanet structure - Exoplanet surface variability - Extrasolar rocky planets - Habitable planets - Exoplanet surface characteristics - Exoplanet atmospheric composition - Exoplanet atmospheric variability - Exoplanet surface composition
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