Simultaneous multicolour optical and near-IR transit photometry of GJ 1214b with SOFIA
Astronomy and Astrophysics
The benchmark exoplanet GJ 1214b is one of the best studied transiting planets in the transition zone between rocky Earth-sized planets and gas or ice giants. This class of super-Earth/mini-Neptune planets is unknown in our Solar System, yet is one of the most frequently detected classes of exoplanets. Understanding the transition from rocky to gaseous planets is a crucial step in the exploration of extrasolar planetary systems, in particular with regard to the potential habitability of this
... tability of this class of planets. GJ 1214b has already been studied in detail from various platforms at many different wavelengths. Our airborne observations with SOFIA add information in the Paschen-alpha cont. 1.9 micron infrared wavelength band, which is not accessible by any other current ground- or space-based instrument due to telluric absorption or limited spectral coverage. We used FLIPO and FPI+ on SOFIA to comprehensively analyse the transmission signal of the possible water-world GJ 1214b through photometric observations during transit in three optical and one infrared channels. We present four simultaneous light curves and corresponding transit depths in three optical and one infrared channel, which we compare to previous observations and state-of-the-art synthetic atmospheric models of GJ 1214b. The final precision in transit depth is between 1.5 and 2.5 times the theoretical photon noise limit, not sensitive enough to constrain the theoretical models any better than previous observations. This is the first exoplanet observation with SOFIA that uses its full set of instruments available to exoplanet spectrophotometry. Therefore we use these results to evaluate SOFIA's potential in this field and suggest future improvements.