Tests, lessons, and successes of exoplanet transit observations with the GTC

Date and time
20 Feb 2014 - 09:30 Europe/London


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Our group is presently conducting an observational campaign, using the 10-meter Gran Telescopio Canarias (GTC), to obtain the transmission spectrum of several exoplanets during a transit event. The GTC instrument OSIRIS is used in its long-slit spectroscopic mode, covering the spectral range of 520-1040 nm, and observations are taken using a set of custom-built slits of various, broad, widths. We integrate the stellar flux of both stars in different wavelength regions producing several light curves and fit transit models in order to obtain the star-to-planet radius ratio Rp/Rs across wavelength. A Markov Chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) Bayesian approach is used for the transit fitting. With our instrumental setup, OSIRIS has been able to reach precisions down to 250 ppm (WASP-48b, V=11.06 mag) for each color light curve 10 nm wide, in a single transit. Central transit timing accuracies have been measured down to 6 seconds.

Here, we will present refined planet parameters, the detection of planet color signatures, and the transmission spectrum of a set of know transiting exoplanets, namely: WASP-43b, HAT-P-32b, HAT-P-12b, WASP-48b. We will also discuss the capabilities and limitations of GTC with current and future instrumentation, and the role of GTC as tool for the follow up of faint Kepler targets. In particular, we will present the GTC observations of the intriguing evaporating planet KIC 12557548b, for which we performed simultaneous color light curves, and a search for alkali elements in its planetary tail. Other setups for observations (Broad and tunable filter photometry) have also been used and will be briefly discussed. The lessons learned from our GTC exoplanet observations will be discussed in the context of the E-ELT future capabilities.