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Using the transit of Venus to probe the upper planetary atmosphere View all abstracts by submitter

Fabio Reale   Submitted: 2015-07-01 04:11

During a planetary transit, atoms with high atomic number absorb short-wavelength radiation in the upper atmosphere, and the planet should appear larger during a primary transit observed in high-energy bands than in the optical band. Here we measure the radius of Venus with subpixel accuracy during the transit in 2012 observed in the optical, ultraviolet and soft X-rays with Hinode and Solar Dynamics Observatory missions. We find that, while Venus?s optical radius is about 80 km larger than the solid body radius (the top of clouds and haze), the radius increases further by >70 km in the extreme ultraviolet and soft X-rays. This measures the altitude of the densest ion layers of Venus?s ionosphere (CO2 and CO), useful for planning missions in situ, and a benchmark case for detecting transits of exoplanets in high-energy bands with future missions, such as the ESA Athena.

Authors: Fabio Reale, Angelo F. Gambino, Giuseppina Micela, Antonio Maggio, Thomas Widemann, Giuseppe Piccioni
Projects: Hinode/XRT,SDO-AIA

Publication Status: published in Nature Communications
Last Modified: 2015-07-01 20:30
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