Wednesday, July 27, 2016

EPIC 205117205b: a Neptune Class Exoplanet Orbiting a pre Main Sequence Star

Zodiacal Exoplanets in Time (ZEIT) III: A Neptune-sized planet orbiting a pre-main-sequence star in the Upper Scorpius OB Association


Mann et al

We confirm and characterize a close-in (Porb = 5.425 days), super-Neptune sized (5.04+0.34−0.37 Earth radii) planet transiting EPIC 205117205 (2MASS J16101473-1919095), a late-type (M3) pre-main sequence (≃11 Myr-old) star in the Upper Scorpius subgroup of the Scorpius-Centaurus OB association. The host star has the kinematics of a member of the Upper Scorpius OB association, and its spectrum contains lithium absorption, an unambiguous sign of youth (less than 20 Myr) in late-type dwarfs. We combine photometry from K2 and the ground-based MEarth project to refine the planet's properties and constrain the average stellar density. We determine EPIC 205117205's bolometric flux and effective temperature from moderate resolution spectra. By utilizing isochrones that include the effects of magnetic fields, we derive a precise (6-7%) radius and mass for the host star, and a stellar age consistent with the established value for Upper Scorpius. Follow-up high-resolution imaging and Doppler spectroscopy confirm that the transiting object is not a stellar companion or a background eclipsing binary blended with the target. The shape of the transit, the constancy of the transit depth and periodicity over 1.5 years, and the independence with wavelength rules out stellar variability, or a dust cloud or debris disk partially occulting the star as the source of the signal; we conclude it must instead be planetary in origin. The existence of EPIC 205117205b suggests close-in planets can form in situ or migrate within ≃10 Myr, e.g., via interactions with a disk, and that long-timescale dynamical migration such as by Lidov-Kozai or planet-planet scattering is not responsible for all short-period planets.

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