Monday, February 1, 2016

KOI-2939b: A Circumbinary Gas Giant in the Habitable Zone

KOI-2939b: the largest and longest-period Kepler transiting circumbinary planet


Kostov et al


We report the discovery of a new Kepler transiting circumbinary planet (CBP). This latest addition to the still-small family of CBPs defies the current trend of known short-period planets orbiting near the stability limit of binary stars. Unlike the previous discoveries, the planet revolving around the eclipsing binary system KOI-2939 has a very long orbital period (~1100 days) and was at conjunction only twice during the Kepler mission lifetime. Due to the singular configuration of the system, KOI-2939b is not only the longest-period transiting CBP at the time of writing, but also one of the longest-period transiting planets. With a radius of 1.06+/-0.01 RJup it is also the largest CBP to date. The planet produced three transits in the light-curve of KOI-2939 (one of them during an eclipse, creating a syzygy) and measurably perturbed the times of the stellar eclipses, allowing us to measure its mass to be 1.52+/-0.65 MJup. The planet revolves around an 11-day period eclipsing binary consisting of two Solar-mass stars on a slightly inclined, mildly eccentric (e_bin = 0.16), spin-synchronized orbit. Despite having an orbital period three times longer than Earth's, KOI-2939b is in the conservative habitable zone of the binary star throughout its orbit.

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