Astronomy & Telescopes

Microlensing Discovers Extrasolar Planet in Habitable Zone

By Keith Cowing
October 14, 2013
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Microlensing Discovers Extrasolar Planet in Habitable Zone

We used Keck adaptive optics observations to identify the first planet discovered by microlensing to lie in or near the habitable zone.

The planet is at projected separation $r_\perp=1.1\pm 0.1\,$AU from its $M_{L}=0.86\pm 0.06\,M_\odot$ host, being the highest microlensing mass definitely identified. The planet has a mass $m_p = 4.8\pm 0.3\,M_{\rm Jup}$, and could in principle have habitable moons. This is also the first planet to be identified as being in the Galactic bulge with good confidence: $D_L=7.7\pm 0.44$ kpc.

The planet/host masses and distance were previously not known, but only estimated using Bayesian priors based on a Galactic model (Yee et al. 2012). These estimates had suggested that the planet might be a super-Jupiter orbiting an M dwarf, a very rare class of planets.

We obtained high-resolution $JHK$ images using Keck adaptive optics to detect the lens and so test this hypothesis. We clearly detect light from a G dwarf at the position of the event, and exclude all interpretations other than that this is the lens with high confidence (95%), using a new astrometric technique.

The calibrated magnitude of the planet host star is $H_{L}=19.16\pm 0.13$. We infer the following probabilities for the three possible orbital configurations of the gas giant planet: 53% to be in the habitable zone, 35% to be near the habitable zone, and 12% to be beyond the snow line, depending on the atmospherical conditions.

MOA-2011-BLG-293Lb: First Microlensing Planet possibly in the Habitable Zone V. Batista, J.-P. Beaulieu, A. Gould, D.P. Bennett, J.C Yee, A. Fukui, B.S. Gaudi, T. Sumi, A. Udalski (Submitted on 14 Oct 2013)

Comments: 20 pages, 4 figures

Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)

Cite as: arXiv:1310.3706 [astro-ph.EP]

(or arXiv:1310.3706v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)

Submission history From: Virginie Batista Dr. [v1] Mon, 14 Oct 2013 14:53:34 GMT (301kb,D)

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