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Feinstein, A. D., Radica, M., Welbanks, L., Murray, C. A., Ohno, K., Coulombe, L. P., et al. (2023). Early Release Science of the exoplanet WASP-39b with JWST NIRISS. Nature, Early Access.
Abstract: The Saturn-mass exoplanet WASP-39b has been the subject of extensive efforts to determine its atmospheric properties using transmission spectroscopy(1-4). However, these efforts have been hampered by modelling degeneracies between composition and cloud properties that are caused by limited data quality(5-9). Here we present the transmission spectrum of WASP-39b obtained using the Single-Object Slitless Spectroscopy (SOSS) mode of the Near Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph (NIRISS) instrument on the JWST. This spectrum spans 0.6-2.8 mu m in wavelength and shows several water-absorption bands, the potassium resonance doublet and signatures of clouds. The precision and broad wavelength coverage of NIRISS/SOSS allows us to break model degeneracies between cloud properties and the atmospheric composition of WASP-39b, favouring a heavy-element enhancement ('metallicity') of about 10-30 times the solar value, a sub-solar carbon-to-oxygen (C/O) ratio and a solar-to-super-solar potassium-to-oxygen (K/O) ratio. The observations are also best explained by wavelength-dependent, non-grey clouds with inhomogeneous coverageof the planet's terminator.