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Unambiguous black hole mass from polarimetry and application to hot Jupiters

Citation

Wiktorowicz, Sloane John (2009) Unambiguous black hole mass from polarimetry and application to hot Jupiters. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. http://resolver.caltech.edu/CaltechETD:etd-03032009-092300

Abstract

A novel technique for detecting light scattered by extrasolar planets is presented that has the potential to constrain orbital inclination and planet mass. To develop this technique, I have commissioned a high precision polarimeter on the Hale 5-m telescope at Palomar Observatory. The high mass X-ray binary Cygnus X-1 has been observed, which is a proxy for extrasolar planet studies. The single scattering model of Brown et al. (1978), widely used in the literature, predicts an orbital inclination for Cygnus X-1 that is inconsistent with the lack of observed X-ray eclipses to 4σ - 5σ. Previous studies have hinted at this discrepancy, but data quality was such that the confidence in such a discrepancy was not statistically significant. My observations represent the highest precision study of this object, and they illustrate the overwhelming complexity of the supergiant/black hole system. They also call into question the validity of the Brown et al. (1978) formalism, widely used by the community, for inclination estimation in binary systems. Extrasolar planet host stars have also been observed, and precision of order one part per million has been achieved on bright targets. Precision attained on fainter host stars is of order one part in 10^5 . While scattered light from extrasolar planets has not been conclusively detected, a planetary transit in the HD 189733 system may have been observed in polarized light. Such an event is observed to be 1,000 times weaker in polarized light than in photometry, and it indicates a planetary transit of the Southern Hemisphere of the host star. Such geometric information is difficult to determine by other methods. The integrated polarization of the debris disk surrounding γ Ophiuchi has been observed to high precision, and the position angle of net polarization is aligned with the disk major axis as seen by the Spitzer Space Telescope. This indicates the disk is primarily composed of forward scattering dust grains larger than the wavelengths of visible light. Finally, Neptune-mass extrasolar planets orbiting close to their host stars have been modeled to be far too warm for liquid water oceans to exist in their upper atmospheres.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:albedo; characterization; exoplanets; instrumentation; optical polarimetry
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy
Major Option:Planetary Science
Minor Option:Astronomy
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Kulkarni, Shrinivas R.
Thesis Committee:
  • Stevenson, David John (chair)
  • Blake, Geoffrey A.
  • Hillenbrand, Lynne A.
  • Kulkarni, Shrinivas R.
Defense Date:28 July 2008
Author Email:sloane (AT) berkeley.edu
Record Number:CaltechETD:etd-03032009-092300
Persistent URL:http://resolver.caltech.edu/CaltechETD:etd-03032009-092300
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:857
Collection:CaltechTHESIS
Deposited By: Imported from ETD-db
Deposited On:13 May 2009
Last Modified:08 Jul 2013 23:50

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