Retrieving Temperatures and Abundances of Exoplanet Atmospheres with High-resolution Cross-correlation Spectroscopy

Matteo Brogi, Michael R. Line

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

146 Scopus citations


High-resolution spectroscopy (R ≥ 25,000) has recently emerged as one of the leading methods for detecting atomic and molecular species in the atmospheres of exoplanets. However, it has so far been lacking a robust method for extracting quantitative constraints on the temperature structure and molecular/atomic abundances. In this work, we present a novel Bayesian atmospheric retrieval framework applicable to high-resolution cross-correlation spectroscopy (HRCCS) that relies on the cross-correlation between data and models to extract the planetary spectral signal. We successfully test the framework on simulated data and show that it can correctly determine Bayesian credibility intervals on atmospheric temperatures and abundances, allowing for a quantitative exploration of the inherent degeneracies. Furthermore, our new framework permits us to trivially combine and explore the synergies between HRCCS and low-resolution spectroscopy to maximally leverage the information contained within each. This framework also allows us to quantitatively assess the impact of molecular line opacities at high resolution. We apply the framework to VLT CRIRES K-band spectra of HD 209458 b and HD 189733 b and retrieve abundant carbon monoxide but subsolar abundances for water, which are largely invariant under different model assumptions. This confirms previous analysis of these data sets, but is possibly at odds with detections of H 2 O at different wavelengths and spectral resolutions. The framework presented here is the first step toward a true synergy between space observatories and ground-based high-resolution observations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number114
JournalAstronomical Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2019


  • methods: data analysis
  • planets and satellites: atmospheres
  • techniques: spectroscopic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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