Using Kepler Candidates to Examine the Properties of Habitable Zone Exoplanets
Adams et al
An analysis of the currently known exoplanets in the habitable zones (HZs) of their host stars is of interest in both the wake of the NASA Kepler mission and with prospects for expanding the known planet population through future ground- and space-based projects. In this paper we compare the empirical distributions of the properties of stellar systems with transiting planets to those with transiting HZ planets. This comparison includes two categories: confirmed/validated transiting planet systems, and Kepler planet and candidate planet systems. These two categories allow us to present quantitative analyses on both a conservative dataset of known planets and a more optimistic and numerous sample of Kepler candidates. Both are subject to similar instrumental and detection biases, and vetted against false positive detections. We examine whether the HZ distributions vary from the overall distributions in the Kepler sample with respect to planetary radius as well as stellar mass, effective temperature, and metallicity. We find that while the evidence is strongest in suggesting a difference between the size distributions of planets in the HZ and the overall size distribution, none of the statistical results provide strong empirical evidence for HZ planets or HZ planet-hosting stars to be significantly different from the full Kepler sample with respect to these properties.