A Lack of Variability between Repeated Spitzer Phase Curves of WASP-43b

Matthew M. Murphy, Thomas G. Beatty, Michael T. Roman, Isaac Malsky, Alex Wingate, Grace Ochs, L. Cinque, Hayley Beltz, Emily Rauscher, Eliza M.R. Kempton, Kevin B. Stevenson

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1 Scopus citations


Though the global atmospheres of hot Jupiters have been extensively studied using phase curve observations, the level of time variability in these data is not well constrained. To investigate possible time variability in a planetary phase curve, we observed two full-orbit phase curves of the hot Jupiter WASP-43b at 4.5 μm using the Spitzer Space Telescope, and reanalyzed a previous 4.5 μm phase curve from Stevenson et al. We find no significant time variability between these three phase curves, which span timescales of weeks to years. The three observations are best fit by a single phase curve with an eclipse depth of 3907 ± 85 ppm, a dayside-integrated brightness temperature of 1479 ± 13 K, a nightside integrated brightness temperature of 755 ± 46 K, and an eastward-shifted peak of 10.°4 ± 1.°8. To model our observations, we performed 3D general circulation model simulations of WASP-43b with simple cloud models of various vertical extents. In comparing these simulations to our observations, we find that WASP-43b likely has a cloudy nightside that transitions to a relatively cloud-free dayside. We estimate that any change in WASP-43b’s vertical cloud thickness of more than three pressure scale heights is inconsistent with our observed upper limit on variation. These observations, therefore, indicate that WASP-43b’s clouds are stable in their vertical and spatial extent over timescales up to several years. These results strongly suggest that atmospheric properties derived from previous, single Spitzer phase curve observations of hot Jupiters likely show us the equilibrium properties of these atmospheres.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number107
JournalAstronomical Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2023
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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