Friday, December 9, 2016

Zodiacal Exoplanets in Time (ZEIT) IV: seven transiting planets in the Praesepe cluster


Mann et al


Open clusters and young stellar associations are attractive sites to search for planets and to test theories of planet formation, migration, and evolution. We present our search for, and characterization of, transiting planets in the ≃800 Myr old Praesepe (Beehive, M44) Cluster from K2 light curves. We identify seven planet candidates, six of which we statistically validate to be real planets. For each host star we obtain high-resolution NIR spectra to measure its projected rotational broadening and radial velocity, the latter of which we use to confirm cluster membership. We obtain low-resolution optical and NIR spectroscopy for each system, which we use in conjunction with the cluster distance and metallicity to provide precise temperatures, masses, radii, and luminosities for the host stars. Combining our measurements of rotational broadening, rotation periods from the K2 light curves, and our derived stellar radii, we show that all planetary orbits are, within errors, aligned with their host star's rotation. To constrain the planets' parameters we fit the K2 light curves including a prior on stellar density to put constraints on the planetary eccentricities, all of which are consistent with zero. The difference between the number of planets found in Praesepe and Hyades (≃800 Myr) and a similar dataset for Pleiades (≃125 Myr) hints of a trend with age, but may be due to incompleteness of current search pipelines for younger, faster-rotating stars. We see increasing evidence that some planets continue to lose atmosphere past 800 Myr, as now two planets at this age have radii significantly larger than their older counterparts from Kepler.

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