Exoplanets & Exomoons

Nearby M Star With Three Transiting Super-Earths Discovered by K2

By Keith Cowing
January 16, 2015
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Nearby M Star With Three Transiting Super-Earths Discovered by K2

Small, cool planets represent the typical end-products of planetary formation. Studying the architectures of these systems, measuring planet masses and radii, and observing these planets’ atmospheres during transit directly informs theories of planet assembly, migration, and evolution.

Here we report the discovery of three small planets orbiting a bright (Ks = 8.6 mag) M0 dwarf using data collected as part of K2, the new transit survey using the re-purposed Kepler spacecraft. Stellar spectroscopy and K2 photometry indicate that the system hosts three transiting planets with radii 1.5-2.1 R_Earth, straddling the transition region between rocky and increasingly volatile-dominated compositions. With orbital periods of 10-45 days the planets receive just 1.5-10x the flux incident on Earth, making these some of the coolest small planets known orbiting a nearby star; planet d is located near the inner edge of the system’s habitable zone.

The bright, low-mass star makes this system an excellent laboratory to determine the planets’ masses via Doppler spectroscopy and to constrain their atmospheric compositions via transit spectroscopy. This discovery demonstrates the power of K2 and future space-based transit searches to find many fascinating objects of interest.

Ian J. M. Crossfield, Erik Petigura, Joshua Schlieder, Andrew W. Howard, B.J. Fulton, Kimberly M. Aller, David R. Ciardi, Sebastien Lepine, Thomas Barclay, Imke de Pater, Katherine de Kleer, Elisa V. Quintana, Jessie L. Christiansen, Eddie Schlafly, Lisa Kaltenegger, Justin R. Crepp, Thomas Henning, Christian Obermeier, Niall Deacon, Brad M. S. Hansen, Michael C. Liu, Tom Greene, Steve B. Howell, Travis Barman, Christoph Mordasini (Submitted on 15 Jan 2015)

Comments: ApJ submitted, 9 pages, 4 figs. Spectra and light curves available

Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP); Solar and Stellar Astrophysics (astro-ph.SR)

Cite as: arXiv:1501.03798 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:1501.03798v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)

Submission history From: Ian Crossfield [v1] Thu, 15 Jan 2015 20:24:52 GMT (1313kb,D) http://arxiv.org/abs/1501.03798

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) 🖖🏻