Revisiting the Phase Curves of WASP-43b: Confronting Re-analyzed Spitzer Data with Cloudy Atmospheres

João M. Mendonça*, Matej Malik, Brice-Olivier Demory, Kevin Heng

*Corresponding author for this work

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Recently acquired Hubble and Spitzer phase curves of the short-period hot Jupiter WASP-43b make it an ideal target for confronting theory with data. On the observational front, we re-analyze the 3.6 and 4.5 μm Spitzer phase curves and demonstrate that our improved analysis better removes residual red noise due to intra-pixel sensitivity, which leads to greater fluxes emanating from the nightside of WASP-43b, thus reducing the tension between theory and data. On the theoretical front, we construct cloud-free and cloudy atmospheres of WASP-43b using our Global Circulation Model (GCM), THOR, which solves the non-hydrostatic Euler equations (compared to GCMs that typically solve the hydrostatic primitive equations). The cloud-free atmosphere produces a reasonable fit to the dayside emission spectrum. The multi-phase emission spectra constrain the cloud deck to be confined to the nightside and have a finite cloud-top pressure. The multi-wavelength phase curves are naturally consistent with our cloudy atmospheres, except for the 4.5 μm phase curve, which requires the presence of enhanced carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of WASP-43b. Multi-phase emission spectra at higher spectral resolution, as may be obtained using the James Webb Space Telescope, and a reflected-light phase curve at visible wavelengths would further constrain the properties of clouds in WASP-43b.
Original languageEnglish
Article number150
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number4
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Planets and satellites: atmospheres

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