Habitable Zones & Global Climate

On the Detection of Habitable Trojan Planets in the Kepler Circumbinary Systems

By Keith Cowing
March 11, 2021
Filed under
On the Detection of Habitable Trojan Planets in the Kepler Circumbinary Systems
Circumbinary Planetary System

We present the results of a study of the prospect of detecting habitable Trojan planets in the Kepler Habitable Zone circumbinary planetary systems (Kepler-16, -47, -453, -1647, -1661).

We integrated the orbits of 10,000 separate N-body systems (N=4,6), each with a one Earth-mass body in a randomly selected orbit near the L4 and L5 Lagrangian points of the host HZ circumbinary planet. We find that stable Trojan planets are restricted to a narrow range of semimajor axes in all five systems and limited to small eccentricities in Kepler-16, -47, and -1661. To assess the prospect of the detection of these habitable Trojan planets, we calculated the amplitudes of the variations they cause in the transit timing of their host bodies.

Results show that the mean amplitudes of the transit timing variations (TTVs) correlate with the mass of the transiting planet and range from 70 minutes for Kepler-16b to 390 minutes for Kepler-47c. Our analysis indicates that the TTVs of the circumbinary planets caused by these Trojan bodies fall within the detectable range of timing precision obtained from the Kepler telescope’s long-cadence data. The latter points to Kepler data as a viable source to search for habitable Trojan planets.

Jeffrey J. Sudol, Nader Haghighipour

Comments: Accepted for publication in The Astronomical Journal. 27 pages, 8 figures, 5 tables. Includes a comprehensive and up to date review on Trojan and co-orbital planets
Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)
Cite as: arXiv:2103.03455 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:2103.03455v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Nader Haghighipour
[v1] Fri, 5 Mar 2021 03:42:11 UTC (1,667 KB)

SpaceRef co-founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.