Abstract

Transiting exoplanets provide the best opportunity for planetary characterization, and thus the search for life outside the Solar System. These planets orbit such that they pass in front ("transit'') and behind ("eclipse'') their host star, and a spectrum of the lost flux constrains the atmospheric properties of the planet. In transits, the flux modulation scales with the cross-sectional area of the planet, and the spectrum includes signatures of molecules in the upper atmosphere of the planet's terminator, which the host star's light passes through on the way to the observer. With eclipses, the lost flux is the direct emission of the planet, a spectrum of which contains emission and absorption features of molecules in the atmosphere depending on atmospheric thermal structure. These signals scale with the size and brightness of the planet and are so dwarfed by the brightness of the host star that only > 1000 K Jupiter-sized planets are observable with current instrumentation. In this work, I develop new techniques and compare existing data analysis methods to extract weak planetary signals. Chapter 2 describes a new elliptical photometry data analysis approach to disentangle exoplanet observations from telescope vibrations. Chapter 3 describes an analysis of Spitzer Space Telescope observations of eclipses of the planet WASP-29b using elliptical photometry and two different light curve modeling methods, and addresses the differences between results. In Chapter 4, I analyze two similar observations of WASP-34b using a grazing eclipse light-curve model. Finally, in Chapter 5 I reanalyze all Spitzer eclipse observations of the Neptune-sized GJ 436b, applying the lessons learned from my earlier works, and comparing my results with the literature.

Notes

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Graduation Date

2020

Semester

Spring

Advisor

Harrington, Joseph

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

College

College of Sciences

Department

Physics

Degree Program

Physics; Planetary Sciences

Format

application/pdf

Identifier

CFE0007931; DP0023065

URL

https://purls.library.ucf.edu/go/DP0023065

Language

English

Release Date

May 2020

Length of Campus-only Access

None

Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)

Restricted to the UCF community until May 2020; it will then be open access.

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