Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Evidence for Reflected Light from Gas Giant HD 20872b, the Most Eccentric Exoplanet Known

Evidence for Reflected Light from the Most Eccentric Exoplanet Known


Kane et al


Planets in highly eccentric orbits form a class of objects not seen within our Solar System. The most extreme case known amongst these objects is the planet orbiting HD 20782, with an orbital period of 597 days and an eccentricity of 0.96. Here we present new data and analysis for this system as part of the Transit Ephemeris Refinement and Monitoring Survey (TERMS). We obtained CHIRON spectra to perform an independent estimation of the fundamental stellar parameters. New radial velocities from AAT and PARAS observations during periastron passage greatly improve the our knowledge of the eccentric nature of the orbit. The combined analysis of our Keplerian orbital and Hipparcos astrometry show that the inclination of the planetary orbit is greater than 1.25 degrees, ruling out stellar masses for the companion. Our long-term robotic photometry show that the star is extremely stable over long timescales. Photometric monitoring of the star during predicted transit and periastron times using MOST rule out a transit of the planet and reveal evidence of phase variations during periastron. These possible photometric phase variations are likely caused by reflected light from the planet's atmosphere and the dramatic change in star--planet separation surrounding the periastron passage.

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