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Systemic - Characterizing Extrasolar Planetary Systems

Cycle 18

27 Feb 2010, 00:55 UTC
Cycle 18
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It’s been rather arduous past few days as the HST Cycle-18 proposal deadline — 5 PM PST, Friday Feb. 26th, to be exact — bore down like a freight train.
During the past year, I’ve become quite intrigued by the remarkable (and well known) HST observation by Vidal Madjar et al. (2003), who discovered that the Lyman-alpha transit depth of HD 209458b is a whopping 15% (as opposed to the mere 1.5% of the star’s light that gets blocked during the optical transit). The implication of this result is that the planet is surrounded by an outflowing, escaping wind of hydrogen, and the discovery has sparked a lot of theoretical work.
A good test for planetary outflow hypotheses is to see what they predict for eccentric planets that undergo drastic changes in stellar heating during the course of the orbit. Fred Adams and I have been working on hydrodynamical models for these situations, and it soon became clear that oklo.org fave HD 17156b, the P=21.2d, e=0.67 transiting planet provides an intriguing observational opportunity for HST/STIS. HD 17156 is currently the fourth-brightest known parent star of a transiting extrasolar planet (after HD 209458, HD 189733 and HD 149026) and it lies ...

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