Prospects for detection of exoplanet magnetic fields through bow-shock observations during transits




An asymmetry between the ingress and egress times was observed in the near-UV light curve of the transit planet WASP-12b. Such asymmetry led us to suggest that the early ingress in the UV light curve of WASP-12b, compared to the optical observations, is caused by a shock around the planet, and that shocks should be a common feature in transiting systems. Here, we classify all the transiting systems known to date according to their potential for producing shocks that could cause observable light curve asymmetries. We found that 36/92 of known transiting systems would lie above a reasonable detection threshold and that the most promising candidates to present shocks are: WASP-19b, WASP-4b, WASP-18b, CoRoT-7b, HAT-P-7b, CoRoT-1b, TrES-3 and WASP-5b. For prograde planets orbiting outside the corotation radius of fast rotating stars, the shock position, instead of being ahead of the planetary motion as in WASP-12b, trails the planet. In this case, we predict that the light curve of the planet should present a late-egress asymmetry. We show that CoRoT-11b is a potential candidate to host such a behind shock and show a late egress. If observed, these asymmetries can provide constraints on planetary magnetic fields. For instance, for a planet that has a magnetic field intensity similar to Jupiter's field (∼14 G) orbiting a star whose magnetic field is between 1 and 100 G, the stand-off distance between the shock and the planet, which we take to be the size of the planet's magnetosphere, ranges from 1 to 40 planetary radii.