A Gemini ground-based transmission spectrum of WASP-29b: a featureless spectrum from 515 to 720 nm

N. P. Gibson, S. Aigrain, J. K. Barstow, T. M. Evans, L. N. Fletcher, P. G. J. Irwin

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We report Gemini-South Gemini Multi-Object Spectrograph observations of the exoplanet system WASP-29 during primary transit as a test case for differential spectrophotometry. We use the multi-object spectrograph to observe the target star and a comparison star simultaneously to produce multiple light curves at varying wavelengths. The ‘white’ light curve and 15 ‘spectral’ light curves are analysed to refine the system parameters and produce a transmission spectrum from ∼515 to 720 nm. All light curves exhibit time-correlated noise, which we model using a variety of techniques. These include a simple noise rescaling, a Gaussian process model and a wavelet-based method. These methods all produce consistent results, although with different uncertainties. The precision of the transmission spectrum is improved by subtracting a common signal from all the spectral light curves, reaching a typical precision of ∼1 × 10−4 in transit depth. The transmission spectrum is free of spectral features, and given the non-detection of a pressure broadened Na feature, we can rule out the presence of a Na-rich atmosphere free of clouds or hazes, although we cannot rule out a narrow Na core. This indicates that Na is not present in the atmosphere, and/or that clouds/hazes play a significant role in the atmosphere and mask the broad wings of the Na feature, although the former is a more likely explanation given WASP-29b’s equilibrium temperature of ∼970 K, at which Na can form various compounds. We also briefly discuss the use of Gaussian process and wavelet methods to account for time-correlated noise in transit light curves.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3680-3692
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number4
Early online date29 Nov 2012
Publication statusPublished - 01 Feb 2013


  • methods: data analysis
  • techniques: spectroscopic
  • stars: individual: WASP-29
  • planetary systems


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