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J.A. Valenti (STScI), S. Arribas (STScI/IAC), P. Ferruit (CRAL/Observatoire de Lyon), R. Gilliland (STScI), T. Boeker (ESA/ESTEC), A. Bunker (Exeter), S. Charlot (IAP), D. Crampton (HIA), G. de Marchi (ESA/ESTEC), M. Franx (Leiden), P. Jakobsen (ESA/ESTEC), R. Maiolino (Arcetri), H. Moseley, B. Rauscher (NASA/GSFC), M. Regan (STScI), H.W. Rix (MPIA)
We explore the potential of the Near-Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec) on the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) to characterize extrasolar planets around cool stars. NIRSpec will be able to study the temperature and composition of planetary atmospheres by separating the thermal emission spectrum (0.1%) of known short-period planets from the emission spectrum (99.9%) of their host stars. Separation of the two emission components can be achieved either by comparing differential measurements in and out of eclipse or perhaps by monitoring systematic variations throughout the planetary orbit. Depending on the differential precision that can be obtained over timescales of hours, NIRSpec may also be able to detect spectral line absorption by chemical species in planetary atmospheres, as the planets transit in front of their host stars. Finally, NIRSpec will be able to obtain very precise radii of transiting planets, which in combination with separate precision radial velocity measurements, will yield planet mass and density, thus constraining core masses and formation and evolution models and constrain models of planet formation and evolution.
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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 37 #4
© 2005. The American Astronomical Soceity.