Spitzer secondary eclipse observations of five cool gas giant planets and empirical trends in cool planet emission spectra

J. A. Kammer, H. A. Knutson, M. R. Line, Jonathan J. Fortney, D. Deming, A. Burrows, N. B. Cowan, A. H. M. J. Triaud, Eric Agol, J.-M. Desert, B. J. Fulton, A. W. Howard, G. P. Laughlin, N. K. Lewis, C. V. Morley, J. I. Moses, A. P. Showman, K. O. Todorov

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39 Citations (Scopus)


In this work we present Spitzer 3.6 and 4.5 μm secondary eclipse observations of five new cool (<1200 K) transiting gas giant planets: HAT-P-19b, WASP-6b, WASP-10b, WASP-39b, and WASP-67b. We compare our measured eclipse depths to the predictions of a suite of atmosphere models and to eclipse depths for planets with previously published observations in order to constrain the temperature- and mass-dependent properties of gas giant planet atmospheres. We find that the dayside emission spectra of planets less massive than Jupiter require models with efficient circulation of energy to the night side and/or increased albedos, while those with masses greater than that of Jupiter are consistently best-matched by models with inefficient circulation and low albedos. At these relatively low temperatures we expect the atmospheric CH4/CO ratio to vary as a function of metallicity, and we therefore use our observations of these planets to constrain their atmospheric metallicities. We find that the most massive planets have dayside emission spectra that are best-matched by solar metallicity atmosphere models, but we are not able to place strong constraints on metallicities of the smaller planets in our sample. Interestingly, we find that the ratio of the 3.6 and 4.5 μm brightness temperatures for these cool transiting planets is independent of planet temperature, and instead exhibits a tentative correlation with planet mass. If this trend can be confirmed, it would suggest that the shape of these planets' emission spectra depends primarily on their masses, consistent with the hypothesis that lower-mass planets are more likely to have metal-rich atmospheres.
Original languageEnglish
Article number118
Number of pages16
JournalThe Astrophysical Journal
Issue number2
Early online date4 Sept 2015
Publication statusPublished - 10 Sept 2015


  • eclipses
  • techniques: photometric
  • planetary systems


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