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The optical transmission spectrum of the hot Jupiter HAT-P-32b: clouds explain the absence of broad spectral features?


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      We report Gemini-North GMOS observations of the inflated hot Jupiter HAT-P-32b during two primary transits. We simultaneously observed two comparison stars and used differential spectro-photometry to produce multi-wavelength light curves. 'White' light curves and 29 'spectral' light curves were extracted for each transit and analysed to refine the system parameters and produce transmission spectra from 520-930nm in ~14nm bins. The light curves contain time-varying white noise as well as time-correlated noise, and we used a Gaussian process model to fit this complex noise model. Common mode corrections derived from the white light curve fits were applied to the spectral light curves which significantly improved our precision, reaching typical uncertainties in the transit depth of ~2x10^-4, corresponding to about half a pressure scale height. The low resolution transmission spectra are consistent with a featureless model, and we can confidently rule out broad features larger than about one scale height. The absence of Na/K wings or prominent TiO/VO features is most easily explained by grey absorption from clouds in the upper atmosphere, masking the spectral features. However, we cannot confidently rule out clear atmosphere models with low abundances (~10^-3 solar) of TiO, VO or even metal hydrides masking the Na and K wings. A smaller scale height or ionisation could also contribute to muted spectral features, but alone are unable to to account for the absence of features reported here.

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      26 September 2013
      1309.6998 10.1093/mnras/stt1783

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      17 pages, 11 figures, 2 tables, accepted for publication in MNRAS


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