We have observed four transits of the planet of HD 209458 using the STIS spectrograph on the Hubble Space Telescope (HST). Summing the recorded counts over wavelength between 582 and 638 nm yields a photometric time series with 80 s time sampling and relative precision of about 1.1 × 10-4 per sample. The folded light curve can be fitted within observational errors using a model consisting of an opaque circular planet transiting a limb-darkened stellar disk. In this way we estimate the planetary radius Rp = 1.347 ± 0.060 RJup, the orbital inclination i = 86°.6 ± 0°.14, the stellar radius R* = 1.146 ± 0.050 R⊙, and one parameter describing the stellar limb darkening. Our estimated radius is smaller than those from earlier studies but is consistent within measurement errors and also with theoretical estimates of the radii of irradiated Jupiter-like planets. Satellites or rings orbiting the planet would, if large enough, be apparent from distortions of the ligh: curve or from irregularities in the transit timings. We find no evidence for either satellites or rings, with upper limits on satellite radius and mass of 1.2 R⊕ and 3 M⊕, respectively. Opaque rings, if present, must be smaller than 1.8 planetary radii in radial extent. The high level of photometric precision attained in this experiment confirms the feasibility of photometric detection of Earth-sized planets circling Sun-like stars.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science