Tuesday, November 29, 2016

A 1.9 Earth radius rocky planet and the discovery of a non-transiting planet in the Kepler-20 system


Buchhave et al


Kepler-20 is a solar-type star (V = 12.5) hosting a compact system of five transiting planets, all packed within the orbital distance of Mercury in our own Solar System. A transition from rocky to gaseous planets with a planetary transition radius of ~1.6 REarth has recently been proposed by several publications in the literature (Rogers 2015;Weiss & Marcy 2014). Kepler-20b (Rp ~ 1.9 REarth) has a size beyond this transition radius, however previous mass measurements were not sufficiently precise to allow definite conclusions to be drawn regarding its composition. We present new mass measurements of three of the planets in the Kepler-20 system facilitated by 104 radial velocity measurements from the HARPS-N spectrograph and 30 archival Keck/HIRES observations, as well as an updated photometric analysis of the Kepler data and an asteroseismic analysis of the host star (MStar = 0.948+-0.051 Msun and Rstar = 0.964+-0.018 Rsun). Kepler-20b is a 1.868+0.066-0.034 REarth planet in a 3.7 day period with a mass of 9.70+1.41-1.44 MEarth resulting in a mean density of 8.2+1.5-1.3 g/cc indicating a rocky composition with an iron to silicate ratio consistent with that of the Earth. This makes Kepler-20b the most massive planet with a rocky composition found to date. Furthermore, we report the discovery of an additional non-transiting planet with a minimum mass of 19.96+3.08-3.61 MEarth and an orbital period of ~34 days in the gap between Kepler-20f (P ~ 11 days) and Kepler-20d (P ~ 78 days).

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