EPIC212521166 b: a Neptune-mass planet with Earth-like density
Osborn et al
We report the discovery of the exoplanet EPIC212521166 b from K2 photometry orbiting on a 13.8637d period around an old, metal-poor K3 dwarf star. A joint analysis of K2 photometry and high-precision RVs from HARPS reveals it to have a radius of 2.6±0.1R⊕ and a mass of 18.3±2.8M⊕, making it the most massive planet with a sub-Neptune radius (i.e. mini-Neptune) yet found. When accounting for compression, the resulting Earth-like density is best fit by a 0.2M⊕ hydrogen atmosphere over an 18M⊕ Earth-like core, although the planet could also have significant water content. At 0.1AU, even taking into account the old stellar age of 8±3 Gyr, the planet is unlikely to have been significantly affected by EUV evaporation or tides. However the planet likely disc-migrated to its current position making the lack of a thick H2 atmosphere puzzling. With a V-band magnitude of 11.9 it is particularly amenable to follow-up observations, making EPIC-1166 b a rare and extremely important planetary system.