Universiteit Leiden

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Spinning worlds

Promotor: I. A. G. Snellen, Co-promotor: M. A. Kenworthy

H. Schwarz
01 June 2017
Thesis in Leiden Repository

The thesis "Spinning Worlds" is about the characterisation of two types of gas-giant exoplanets: Hot Jupiters, with orbital periods of fewer than five days, and young, wide-orbit gas giants, with orbital periods as long as thousands of years. The thesis is based on near-infrared observations of 1 hot Jupiter and 3 wide-orbit gas giants at high spectral resolution. The observing strategies and the analyses are unique for the two types. For the hot Jupiter, HD 209458 b, the focus is the vertical temperature structure of the atmosphere. This particular hot Jupiter was previously thought to have an atmospheric layer where the temperature increases with altitude, but we found evidence against the existence of such a layer. The three wide-orbit gas giants are all in the early stages of their lives, and we measured their rotation and found a correlation with age: The very youngest objects rotate more slowly than the slightly older (20 million years) objects. We interpret this as the initially hot and bloated exoplanets cooling down and contracting, causing them to spin-up, until the contraction slows down as they approach a radius comparable to that of Jupiter.