Tuesday, January 3, 2017

K2-56b/BD+20594b is a High Density Subneptune/MegaEarth


Espinoza et al


We report the discovery of K2-56b, a high-density sub-Neptune exoplanet, made using photometry from Campaign 4 of the two-wheeled Kepler (K2) mission, ground-based radial velocity (RV) follow-up from HARPS and high-resolution lucky and adaptive optics imaging obtained using AstraLux and MagAO, respectively. The host star is a bright (V = 11.04, K s = 9.37), slightly metal-poor ([Fe/H] = −0.15 ± 0.05 dex) solar analogue located at ${152.1}_{-7.4}^{+9.7}$ pc from Earth, for which we find a radius of ${R}_{* }={0.928}_{-0.040}^{+0.055}{R}_{\odot }$ and a mass of ${M}_{* }={0.961}_{-0.029}^{+0.032}{M}_{\odot }$. A joint analysis of the K2 photometry and HARPS RVs reveal that the planet is in a ≈42 day orbit around its host star, has a radius of ${2.23}_{-0.11}^{+0.14}{R}_{\oplus }$, and a mass of ${16.3}_{-6.1}^{+6.0}{M}_{\oplus }$. Although the data at hand put the planet in the region of the mass–radius diagram where we could expect planets with a pure rock (i.e., magnesium silicate) composition using two-layer models (i.e., between rock/iron and rock/ice compositions), we discuss more realistic three-layer composition models which can explain the high density of the discovered exoplanet. The fact that the planet lies in the boundary between "possibly rocky" and "non-rocky" exoplanets makes it an interesting planet for future RV follow-up.

previous preprint.

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