CUTE Reveals Escaping Metals in the Upper Atmosphere of the Ultrahot Jupiter WASP-189b

A. G. Sreejith, Kevin France, Luca Fossati, Tommi T. Koskinen, Arika Egan, P. Wilson Cauley, Patricio E. Cubillos, S. Ambily, Chenliang Huang, Panayotis Lavvas, Brian T. Fleming, Jean Michel Desert, Nicholas Nell, Pascal Petit, Aline Vidotto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Ultraviolet observations of ultrahot Jupiters, exoplanets with temperatures over 2000 K, provide us with an opportunity to investigate if and how atmospheric escape shapes their upper atmosphere. Near-ultraviolet transit spectroscopy offers a unique tool to study this process owing to the presence of strong metal lines and a bright photospheric continuum as the light source against which the absorbing gas is observed. WASP-189b is one of the hottest planets discovered to date, with a dayside temperature of about 3400 K orbiting a bright A-type star. We present the first near-ultraviolet observations of WASP-189b, acquired with the Colorado Ultraviolet Transit Experiment (CUTE). CUTE is a 6U NASA-funded ultraviolet spectroscopy mission, dedicated to monitoring short-period transiting planets. WASP-189b was one of the CUTE early science targets and was observed during three consecutive transits in 2022 March. We present an analysis of the CUTE observations and results demonstrating near-ultraviolet (2500-3300 Å) broadband transit depth ( 1.08 − 0.08 + 0.08 % ) of about twice the visual transit depth indicating that the planet has an extended, hot upper atmosphere with a temperature of about 15,000 K and a moderate mass-loss rate of about 4 × 108 kg s−1. We observe absorption by Mg ii lines (R p/R s of 0.212 − 0.061 + 0.038 ) beyond the Roche lobe at >4σ significance in the transmission spectrum at a resolution of 10 Å, while at lower resolution (100 Å), we observe a quasi-continuous absorption signal consistent with a “forest” of low-ionization metal absorption dominated by Fe ii. The results suggest an upper atmospheric temperature (∼15,000 K), higher than that predicted by current state-of-the-art hydrodynamic models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberL23
JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 1 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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