Hubble PanCET: An extended upper atmosphere of neutral hydrogen around the warm Neptune GJ 3470b

Abstract : GJ 3470b is a warm Neptune transiting a M dwarf star at the edge of the evaporation desert. It offers the possibility to investigate how low-mass, close-in exoplanets evolve under the irradiation from their host stars. We observed three transits of GJ 3470b in the Lyman-α line with the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) as part of the Panchromatic Comparative Exoplanet Treasury (PanCET) program. Absorption signatures are detected with similar properties in all three independent epochs, with absorption depths of 35±7% in the blue wing of the line, and 23±5% in the red wing. The repeatability of these signatures, their phasing with the planet transit, and the radial velocity of the absorbing gas, allow us to conclude that there is an extended upper atmosphere of neutral hydrogen around GJ 3470 b. We determine from our observations the stellar radiation pressure and XUV irradiation from GJ 3470 and use them to perform numerical simulations of GJ 3470b's upper atmosphere with the EVaporating Exoplanets (EVE) code. The unusual redshifted signature can be explained by the damping wings of dense layers of neutral hydrogen extending beyond the Roche lobe and elongated in the direction of the planet motion. This structure could correspond to a shocked layer of planetary material formed by the collision of the expanding thermosphere with the wind of the star. The blueshifted signature is well explained by neutral hydrogen atoms escaping at rates of about 10 10 g s −1 , blown away from the star by its strong radiation pressure, and quickly photoionized, resulting in a smaller exosphere than that of the warm Neptune GJ 436b. The stronger escape from GJ 3470b, however, may have led to the loss of about 4-35% of its current mass over its ∼2 Gyr lifetime.
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V. Bourrier, A. Lecavelier Des Etangs, D. Ehrenreich, J. Sanz-Forcada, R. Allart, et al.. Hubble PanCET: An extended upper atmosphere of neutral hydrogen around the warm Neptune GJ 3470b. Astronomy and Astrophysics - A&A, EDP Sciences, 2018, 620, pp.A147. ⟨10.1051/0004-6361/201833675⟩. ⟨hal-02298365⟩

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