TESS unveils the phase curve of WASP-33b: Characterization of the planetary atmosphere and the pulsations from the star

C. Von Essen*, M. Mallonn, C. C. Borre, V. Antoci, K. G. Stassun, S. Khalafinejad, G. Tautvaišienė

*Corresponding author for this work

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We present the detection and characterization of the full-orbit phase curve and secondary eclipse of the ultra-hot Jupiter WASP-33b at optical wavelengths, along with the pulsation spectrum of the host star. We analyzed data collected by the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) in sector 18. WASP-33b belongs to a very short list of highly irradiated exoplanets that were discovered from the ground and were later visited by TESS. The host star of WASP-33b is of δ Scuti-type and shows nonradial pulsations in the millimagnitude regime, with periods comparable to the period of the primary transit. These completely deform the photometric light curve, which hinders our interpretations. By carrying out a detailed determination of the pulsation spectrum of the host star, we find 29 pulsation frequencies with a signal-to-noise ratio higher than 4. After cleaning the light curve from the stellar pulsations, we confidently report a secondary eclipse depth of 305.8 ± 35.5 parts-per-million (ppm), along with an amplitude of the phase curve of 100.4 ± 13.1 ppm and a corresponding westward offset between the region of maximum brightness and the substellar point of 28.7 ± 7.1 degrees, making WASP-33b one of the few planets with such an offset found so far. Our derived Bond albedo, AB = 0.369 ± 0.050, and heat recirculation efficiency, É = 0.189 ± 0.014, confirm again that he behavior of WASP-33b is similar to that of other hot Jupiters, despite the high irradiation received from its host star. By connecting the amplitude of the phase curve to the primary transit and depths of the secondary eclipse, we determine that the day-and nightside brightness temperatures of WASP-33b are 3014 ± 60 K and 1605 ± 45 K, respectively. From the detection of photometric variations due to gravitational interactions, we estimate a planet mass of MP = 2.81 ± 0.53 MJ. Based on analyzing the stellar pulsations in the frame of the planetary orbit, we find no signals of star-planet interactions.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberA34
JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Methods: observational
  • Planets and satellites: atmospheres
  • Planets and satellites: fundamental parameters
  • Stars: individual: WASP-33

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