Seeing double with K2: Testing re-inflation with two remarkably similar planets around red giant branch stars
Grunblatt et al
Determining the mechanism that causes anomalously large radii of strongly irradiated exoplanets has remained a puzzle since before the radius of an exoplanet was first measured. Here, we report the discovery of a new inflated gas giant planet found with the NASA K2 Mission, EPIC2287.01, and a revised mass for the previously discovered inflated gas giant K2-97b. These planets orbit at moderate (~9 day) orbital distances around host stars which recently evolved into red giants. We constrain the irradiation history of these systems using a model constrained by parameters determined by asteroseismology and Keck/HIRES spectroscopy and radial velocity measurements. We find that both planets resided near the planet inflation irradiation threshold during their main sequence lifetimes. We also find that the current irradiation of these planets is typical for the population of planets with similar radii, but the main sequence irradiation of these planets would have been atypically small for the population of planets inflated to their size. Our precise constraints of the masses and radii of the stars and planets in this system allow us to constrain the planetary heating efficiencies of both systems to 0.03% +0.03%/-0.02%. These results are consistent with a planet re-inflation scenario, but suggest the efficiency of planet re-inflation is significantly lower than previously theorized. Finally, we discuss the similarity of both planetary systems (agreement within 10% of stellar masses and radii, and planet masses, radii, and orbital periods) and speculate that this may be due to selection bias in searching for planets around evolved stars.