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See detailTransit confirmation and improved stellar and planet parameters for the super-Earth HD 97658 b and its host star
Van Grootel, Valérie ULg; Gillon, Michaël ULg; Valencia, D. et al

in Astrophysical Journal (in press)

Super-Earths transiting nearby bright stars are key objects that simultaneously allow for accurate measurements of both their mass and radius, providing essential constraints on their internal composition ... [more ▼]

Super-Earths transiting nearby bright stars are key objects that simultaneously allow for accurate measurements of both their mass and radius, providing essential constraints on their internal composition. We present here the confirmation, based on Spitzer transit observations, that the super-Earth HD 97658 b transits its host star. HD 97658 is a low-mass ($M_*=0.77\pm0.05\,M_{\odot}$) K1 dwarf, as determined from the Hipparcos parallax and stellar evolution modeling. To constrain the planet parameters, we carry out Bayesian global analyses of Keck-HIRES radial velocities, and MOST and Spitzer photometry. HD 97658 b is a massive ($M_P=7.55^{+0.83}_{-0.79} M_{\oplus}$) and large ($R_{P} = 2.247^{+0.098}_{-0.095} R_{\oplus}$ at 4.5 $\mu$m) super-Earth. We investigate the possible internal compositions for HD 97658 b. Our results indicate a large rocky component, by at least 60% by mass, and very little H-He components, at most 2% by mass. We also discuss how future asteroseismic observations can improve the knowledge of the HD 97658 system, in particular by constraining its age. Orbiting a bright host star, HD 97658 b will be a key target for coming space missions TESS, CHEOPS, PLATO, and also JWST, to characterize thoroughly its structure and atmosphere. [less ▲]

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See detailSearch for a habitable terrestrial planet transiting the nearby red dwarf GJ 1214
Gillon, Michaël ULg; Demory, B.-O.; Madhusudhan, N. et al

E-print/Working paper (2013)

High-precision eclipse spectrophotometry of transiting terrestrial exoplanets represents a promising path for the first atmospheric characterizations of habitable worlds and the search for life outside ... [more ▼]

High-precision eclipse spectrophotometry of transiting terrestrial exoplanets represents a promising path for the first atmospheric characterizations of habitable worlds and the search for life outside our solar system. The detection of terrestrial planets transiting nearby late-type M-dwarfs could make this approach applicable within the next decade, with near-to-come general facilities. In this context, we previously identified GJ 1214 as a high-priority target for a transit search, as the transit probability of a habitable planet orbiting this nearby M4.5 dwarf would be significantly enhanced by the transiting nature of GJ 1214 b, the super-Earth already known to orbit the star. Basing on this observation, we have set-up an ambitious high-precision photometric monitoring of GJ 1214 with the Spitzer Space Telescope to probe its entire habitable zone in search of a transiting planet as small as Mars. We present here the results of this transit search. Unfortunately, we did not detect any second transiting planet. Assuming GJ 1214 hosts a habitable planet larger than Mars, our global analysis of the whole Spitzer dataset leads to a posterior no-transit probability >=97%. Our analysis allows us to significantly improve the characterization of GJ 1214 b, to measure its occultation depth to be 70+-35 ppm at 4.5 microns, and to constrain it to be smaller than 205ppm (3-sigma upper limit) at 3.6 microns. In agreement with the plethora of transmission measurements published so far for GJ 1214 b, these emission measurements are consistent with both a metal-rich and a cloudy hydrogen-rich atmosphere. [less ▲]

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See detailSpitzer Transits Of The Super-Earth Gj1214b And Implications For Its Atmosphere
Fraine, Jonathan D.; Deming, D.; Gillon, Michaël ULg et al

in AAS/Division for Planetary Sciences Meeting Abstracts (2012, October 01)

We observed the transiting super-Earth exoplanet GJ1214b using Warm Spitzer at 4.5 μm wavelength during a 20-day quasi-continuous sequence in May 2011. The goals of our long observation were to accurately ... [more ▼]

We observed the transiting super-Earth exoplanet GJ1214b using Warm Spitzer at 4.5 μm wavelength during a 20-day quasi-continuous sequence in May 2011. The goals of our long observation were to accurately define the infrared transit radius of this nearby super-Earth, to search for the secondary eclipse, and to search for other transiting planets in the habitable zone of GJ1214. We here report results from the transit monitoring of GJ1214b, including a re-analysis of previous transit observations by Desert et al. (2011). In total, we analyze 14 transits of GJ1214b at 4.5 μm, 3 transits at 3.6 μm, and 7 new ground-based transits in the I+z band. Our new Spitzer data by themselves eliminate cloudless solar composition atmospheres for GJ1214b, and methane-rich models from Howe & Burrows (2012). Using our new Spitzer measurements to anchor the observed transit radii of GJ1214b at long wavelengths, and adding new measurements in I+z, we evaluate models from Benneke & Seager (2012) and Howe & Burrows (2012) using a χ2 analysis. We find that the best-fit model exhibits an increase in transit radius at short wavelength due to Rayleigh scattering. Pure water atmospheres are also possible. However, a flat line (no atmosphere detected) remains among the best of the statistically acceptable models, and better than pure water atmospheres. We explore the effect of systematic differences among results from different observational groups, and we find that the flat line model is the least sensitive to systematic error. [less ▲]

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See detailImproved precision on the radius of the nearby super-Earth 55 Cnc e
Gillon, Michaël ULg; Demory, B.-O.; Benneke, B. et al

in Astronomy and Astrophysics (2012), 539

We report on new transit photometry for the super-Earth 55 Cnc e obtained with Warm Spitzer/IRAC at 4.5 microns. An individual analysis of these new data leads to a planet radius of 2.21-0.16+0.15 Rearth ... [more ▼]

We report on new transit photometry for the super-Earth 55 Cnc e obtained with Warm Spitzer/IRAC at 4.5 microns. An individual analysis of these new data leads to a planet radius of 2.21-0.16+0.15 Rearth, in good agreement with the values previously derived from the MOST and Spitzer transit discovery data. A global analysis of both Spitzer transit time-series improves the precision on the radius of the planet at 4.5 microns to 2.20+-0.12 Rearth. We also performed an independent analysis of the MOST data, paying particular attention to the influence of the systematic effects of instrumental origin on the derived parameters and errors by including them in a global model instead of performing a preliminary detrending-filtering processing. We deduce from this reanalysis of MOST data an optical planet radius of 2.04+-0.15 Rearth that is consistent with our Spitzer infrared radius. Assuming the achromaticity of the transit depth, we performed a global analysis combining Spitzer and MOST data that results in a planet radius of 2.17+-0.10 Rearth (13,820+-620 km). These results confirm that the most probable composition of 55 Cnc e is an envelope of supercritical water above a rocky nucleus. [less ▲]

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See detailDetection of a transit of the super-Earth 55 Cnc e with Warm Spitzer
Demory, B.-O.; Gillon, Michaël ULg; Deming, D. et al

in Astronomy and Astrophysics (2011), 533

We report on the detection of a transit of the super-Earth 55 Cnc e with warm Spitzer in IRAC's 4.5 μm band. Our MCMC analysis includes an extensive modeling of the systematic effects affecting warm ... [more ▼]

We report on the detection of a transit of the super-Earth 55 Cnc e with warm Spitzer in IRAC's 4.5 μm band. Our MCMC analysis includes an extensive modeling of the systematic effects affecting warm Spitzer photometry, and yields a transit depth of 410 ± 63 ppm, which translates to a planetary radius of 2.08+0.16-0.17 R_oplus as measured in IRAC 4.5 μm channel. A planetary mass of 7.81-0.53+0.58 M_oplus is derived from an extensive set of radial-velocity data, yielding a mean planetary density of 4.78-1.20+1.31 g cm-3. Thanks to the brightness of its host star (V = 6, K = 4), 55 Cnc e is a unique target for the thorough characterization of a super-Earth orbiting around a solar-type star. [less ▲]

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See detailA short-period super-Earth orbiting the M2.5 dwarf GJ 3634. Detection with HARPS velocimetry and transit search with Spitzer photometry
Bonfils, X.; Gillon, Michaël ULg; Forveille, T. et al

in Astronomy and Astrophysics (2011), 528

We report on the detection of GJ 3634b, a super-Earth of mass m sin i = 7.0[SUB]-0.8[SUP]+0.9[/SUP]~M_⊕[/SUB] and period P = 2.64561 ± 0.00066 day. Its host star is a M2.5 dwarf, has a mass of 0.45 ± 0.05 ... [more ▼]

We report on the detection of GJ 3634b, a super-Earth of mass m sin i = 7.0[SUB]-0.8[SUP]+0.9[/SUP]~M_⊕[/SUB] and period P = 2.64561 ± 0.00066 day. Its host star is a M2.5 dwarf, has a mass of 0.45 ± 0.05 M[SUB]ȯ[/SUB], a radius of 0.43 ± 0.03 R[SUB]ȯ[/SUB] and lies 19.8 ± 0.6 pc away from our Sun. The planet is detected after a radial-velocity campaign using the ESO/Harps spectrograph. GJ 3634b had an a priori geometric probability to undergo transit of ~7% and, if telluric in composition, a non-grazing transit would produce a photometric dip of ≲0.1%. We therefore followed-up upon the RV detection with photometric observations using the 4.5-μm band of the IRAC imager onboard Spitzer. Our six-hour long light curve excludes that a transit occurs for 2σ of the probable transit window, decreasing the probability that GJ 3634b undergoes transit to ~0.5%. Based on observations made with the Harps instrument on the ESO 3.6-m telescope at La Silla Observatory under program IDs 082.C-0718(B) and183.C-0437(A), and observations made with Warm Spitzer under program 60027.Radial-velocity and photometric tables (Tables 2 and 3) are only available in electronic form at the CDS via anonymous ftp to cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr (130.79.128.5) or via <A href="http://cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr/viz-bin/qcat?J/A+A/528/A111">http://cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr/viz-bin/qcat?J/A+A/528/A111</A> [less ▲]

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See detailAn educated search for transiting habitable planets: (Research Note) Targetting M dwarfs with known transiting planets
Gillon, Michaël ULg; Bonfils, X.; Demory, B-O et al

in Astronomy and Astrophysics (2011), 525

Because the planets of a system form in a flattened disk, they are expected to share similar orbital inclinations at the end of their formation. The high-precision photometric monitoring of stars known to ... [more ▼]

Because the planets of a system form in a flattened disk, they are expected to share similar orbital inclinations at the end of their formation. The high-precision photometric monitoring of stars known to host a transiting planet could thus reveal the transits of one or more other planets. We investigate here the potential of this approach for the M dwarf GJ 1214 that hosts a transiting super-Earth. For this system, we infer the transit probabilities as a function of orbital periods. Using Monte-Carlo simulations we address both the cases for fully coplanar and for non-coplanar orbits, with three different choices of inclinations distribution for the non-coplanar case. GJ 1214 reveals to be a very promising target for the considered approach. Because of its small size, a ground-based photometric monitoring of this star could detect the transit of a habitable planet as small as the Earth, while a space-based monitoring could detect any transiting habitable planet down to the size of Mars. The mass measurement of such a small planet would be out of reach for current facilities, but we emphasize that a planet mass would not be needed to confirm the planetary nature of the transiting object. Furthermore, the radius measurement combined with theoretical arguments would help us to constrain the structure of the planet [less ▲]

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See detailThe Spitzer search for the transits of HARPS low-mass planets - I. No transit for the super-Earth HD 40307b
Gillon, Michaël ULg; Deming, D.; Demory, B *-O et al

in Astronomy and Astrophysics (2010), 518(A25),

We used Spitzer and its IRAC camera to search for the transit of the super-Earth HD 40307b. The hypothesis that the planet transits could not be firmly discarded from our first photometric monitoring of a ... [more ▼]

We used Spitzer and its IRAC camera to search for the transit of the super-Earth HD 40307b. The hypothesis that the planet transits could not be firmly discarded from our first photometric monitoring of a transit window because of the uncertainty coming from the modeling of the photometric baseline. To obtain a firm result, two more transit windows were observed and a global Bayesian analysis of the three IRAC time series and the HARPS radial velocities was performed. Unfortunately, the hypothesis that the planet transited during the observed phase window is firmly rejected, while the probability that the planet does transit but that the eclipse was missed by our observations is nearly negligible (0.26%). [less ▲]

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