Friday, June 27, 2014

SuperEarth 55 Cancri e is in a Polar Orbit Around its Host Star

Detecting the spin-orbit misalignment of the super-Earth 55 Cnc e


Bourrier et al


We present time-resolved spectroscopy of transits of the super-Earth 55 Cnc e using HARPS-N observations. We devised an empirical correction for the "color effect" affecting the radial velocity residuals from the Keplerian fit, which significantly improves their dispersion with respect to the HARPS-N pipeline standard data-reduction. Using our correction, we were able to detect the smallest Rossiter-McLaughlin anomaly amplitude of an exoplanet so far (~60 cm/s). The super-Earth 55 Cnc e is also the smallest exoplanet with a Rossiter-McLaughlin anomaly detection. We measured the sky-projected obliquity lambda = 72.4 (+12.7 -11.5 deg), indicating that the planet orbit is prograde, highly misaligned and nearly polar compared to the stellar equator. The entire 55 Cancri system may have been highly tilted by the presence of a stellar companion.

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