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Astron. Astrophys. 325, 551-558 (1997)

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Detection of planetary spectral features of extrasolar planets through their circumstellar dust - a Monte Carlo simulation

O. Fischer and W. Pfau

Astrophysikalisches Institut und Universitäts-Sternwarte, Schillergäßchen 2, D-07745 Jena, Germany

Received 10 December 1996 / Accepted 21 March 1997


One of the methods envisaged to detect planets outside of our solar system assumes that certain spectral features at 10 and below 20 µm wavelength are typical of planetary atmospheres. Their detection would then be an unambiguous sign of the presence of extrasolar planets. In these spectral regions, there might be interference with the silicate and ice features of circumstellar material still associated with the system. In order to get an estimate of this effect, we used our 3D Monte Carlo radiation transport code to model the spectrum of a Keplerian disk with embedded artificial planets encircling a central star of solar luminosity and temperature. The disk structure and the grain model resemble real properties in protoplanetary disks, the temperature distribution was calculated independently. Three models with different circumstellar dust populations and disk structure were calculated, each of them for two debris disk masses. From the observational point of view, various beam sizes and positions of the observer in respect to the configuration were taken into account. The detectability of the embedded planetary sources is discussed. The results show strong constraints on the detection of planetary atmospheric features through circumstellar dust.

Key words: radiative transfer – methods: statistical – interplanetary medium – planets and satellites: general – stars: circumstellar matter – stars: planetary systems – infrared: solar system

Send offprint requests to: O.  Fischer, fischer@astro.uni-jena.de


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© European Southern Observatory (ESO) 1997

Online publication: April 28, 1998