Prospects for Directly Imaging Young Giant Planets at Optical Wavelengths
In this work, we investigate the properties of young giant planet spectra in the optical and suggest that future spacebased direct imaging missions should be considering young planets as a valuable and informative science case. While young planets are dimmer in the optical than in the infrared, they can still be brighter in the optical than a mature planet of similar mass. Therefore, an instrument designed to characterize mature planets should also be suitable for high-precision photometric
... ion photometric imaging and spectroscopy of young self-luminous planets in a wavelength range and at a contrast ratio not currently attainable from the ground. We identify known young self-luminous companions that are feasible targets for coronagraphic instrument on the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST-CGI) and compute spectra for them, including a treatment of scattering and reflected light at optical wavelengths. Using these results, we highlight potentially diagnostic spectral features that will be present in the WFIRST-CGI wavelengths. Expanding to direct imaging missions beyond WFIRST-CGI, we also use evolutionary models across a grid of masses and planet-star separations as inputs to compute spectra of hypothetical objects, exploring when reflected light may contribute to a degree comparable to that of thermal emission from the residual heat of formation.