Detecting reflected light from hot Jupiters at high spectral resolution

Jennifer Glover ( Université McGill )

Exoplanets have been mostly studied in transmission or emission. However, detecting reflected light is the only way to constrain the scattering phase function, spatial distribution, and albedo spectrum of cloud particles. Furthermore, near-term searches for biosignatures from potentially habitable planets will rely on detecting scattered light with high resolution spectrographs on extremely large telescopes.

Despite this promising future, there have been few spectroscopic studies of exoplanets in reflected light, especially at high spectral resolution. We have investigated high spectral resolution reflected light studies using synthetic injection-retrieval techniques. This data will help define the range of conditions under which planetary reflected light can be detected.

Additionally, we aim to firmly establish the detection of reflected light at high spectral resolution using archival HARPS observations and approved observations with Maroon-X at Gemini North. Our primary objective is to detect reflected light and hence estimate the planet’s geometric albedo, however, we may be able to distinguish between various cloud cover scenarios.