Astronomy & Telescopes

Terrestrial World Measured to within 120 km: Test Case for a New Spitzer Observing Mode

By Keith Cowing
May 16, 2014
Filed under ,
Terrestrial World Measured to within 120 km: Test Case for a New Spitzer Observing Mode

We present the characterization of the Kepler-93 exoplanetary system, based on three years of photometry gathered by the Kepler spacecraft.

The duration and cadence of the Kepler observations, in tandem with the brightness of the star, enable unusually precise constraints on both the planet and its host. We conduct an asteroseismic analysis of the Kepler photometry and conclude that the star has an average density of 1.652+/-0.006 g/cm^3.

Its mass of 0.911+/-0.033 M_Sun renders it one of the lowest-mass subjects of asteroseismic study. An analysis of the transit signature produced by the planet Kepler-93b, which appears with a period of 4.72673978+/-9.7×10^-7 days, returns a consistent but less precise measurement of the stellar density, 1.72+0.02-0.28 g/cm^3. The agreement of these two values lends credence to the planetary interpretation of the transit signal.

The achromatic transit depth, as compared between Kepler and the Spitzer Space Telescope, supports the same conclusion. We observed seven transits of Kepler-93b with Spitzer, three of which we conducted in a new observing mode. The pointing strategy we employed to gather this subset of observations halved our uncertainty on the transit radius ratio R_p/R_star. We find, after folding together the stellar radius measurement of 0.919+/-0.011 R_Sun with the transit depth, a best-fit value for the planetary radius of 1.481+/-0.019 R_Earth.

The uncertainty of 120 km on our measurement of the planet’s size currently renders it one of the most precisely measured planetary radii outside of the Solar System. Together with the radius, the planetary mass of 3.8+/-1.5 M_Earth corresponds to a rocky density of 6.3+/-2.6 g/cm^3. After applying a prior on the plausible maximum densities of similarly-sized worlds between 1–1.5 R_Earth, we find that Kepler-93b possesses an average density within this group.

Sarah Ballard, William J. Chaplin, David Charbonneau, Jean-Michel Desert, Francois Fressin, Li Zeng, Michael W. Werner, Guy R. Davies, Victor Silva Aguirre, Sarbani Basu, Jorgen Christensen-Dalsgaard, Travis S. Metcalfe, Dennis Stello, Timothy R. Bedding, Tiago L. Campante, Rasmus Handberg, Christoffer Karoff, Yvonne Elsworth, Ronald L. Gilliland, Saskia Hekker, Daniel Huber, Steven D. Kawaler, Hans Kjeldsen, Mikkel N. Lund, Mia Lundkvist (Submitted on 14 May 2014)

Comments: 20 pages, 9 figures, accepted for publication in ApJ

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

Cite as: arXiv:1405.3659 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:1405.3659v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)

Submission history From: Sarah Ballard [view email] [v1] Wed, 14 May 2014 20:00:22 GMT (907kb)

Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA Space Station Payload manager/space biologist, Away Teams, Journalist, Lapsed climber, Synaesthete, Na’Vi-Jedi-Freman-Buddhist-mix, ASL, Devon Island and Everest Base Camp veteran, (he/him) 🖖🏻