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The Mega-MUSCLES Treasury Survey: Measurements of the Ultraviolet Spectral Characteristics of Low-mass Exoplanetary Systems

(AGENPARL) – Goddard Space Flight Center mar 12 febbraio 2019

The Mega-MUSCLES Treasury Survey: Measurements of the Ultraviolet Spectral Characteristics of Low-mass Exoplanetary Systems
HST Proposal 15071

Cynthia Froning
University of Texas at Austin

Cycle: 25
Category: Planets and Planet Formation
Proposal type: GO

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Proposal Abstract

JWST will be able to observe the atmospheres of rocky planets transiting nearby M dwarfs. A few such planets are already known (around GJ1132, Proxima Cen, and Trappist-1) and TESS is predicted to find many more, including ~14 habitable zone planets. To interpret observations of these exoplanets’ atmospheres, we must understand the high-energy SED of their host stars: X-ray/EUV irradiation can erode a planet’s gaseous envelope and FUV/NUV-driven photochemistry shapes an atmosphere’s molecular abundances, including potential biomarkers like O2, O3, and CH4. Our MUSCLES Treasury Survey (Cycles 19+22) used Hubble/COS+STIS UV observations with contemporaneous X-ray and ground-based data to construct complete SEDs for 11 low-mass exoplanet hosts. MUSCLES is the most widely used database for early-M and K dwarf (>0.3 M_sun) irradiance spectra and has supported a wide range of atmospheric stability and biomarker modeling work. However, TESS will find most of its habitable planets transiting stars less massive than this, and these will be the planets to characterize with JWST. Here, we propose to expand the MUSCLES project to: (a) new M dwarf exoplanet hosts with varying properties; (b) reference M dwarfs below 0.3 solar masses that may be used as proxies for M dwarf planet hosts discovered after HST’s lifetime; and (c) more rapidly rotating stars of GJ1132’s mass to probe XUV evolution over gigayear timescales. We propose to gather the first panchromatic SEDs of rocky planet hosts GJ1132 and Trappist-1. This proposal extends proven methods to a key new sample of stars, upon which critically depends the long-term goal of studying habitable planet atmospheres with JWST and beyond.;

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