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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 (2014), 786

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 detailCHEOPS: A transit photometry mission for ESA's small mission programme
Broeg, C.; Fortier, A.; Ehrenreich, D. et al

in Saglia, Roberto (Ed.) European Physical Journal Web of Conferences (2013, April 01)

Ground based radial velocity (RV) searches continue to discover exoplanets below Neptune mass down to Earth mass. Furthermore, ground based transit searches now reach milli-mag photometric precision and ... [more ▼]

Ground based radial velocity (RV) searches continue to discover exoplanets below Neptune mass down to Earth mass. Furthermore, ground based transit searches now reach milli-mag photometric precision and can discover Neptune size planets around bright stars. These searches will find exoplanets around bright stars anywhere on the sky, their discoveries representing prime science targets for further study due to the proximity and brightness of their host stars. A mission for transit follow-up measurements of these prime targets is currently lacking. The first ESA S-class mission CHEOPS (CHaracterizing ExoPlanet Satellite) will fill this gap. It will perform ultra-high precision photometric monitoring of selected bright target stars almost anywhere on the sky with sufficient precision to detect Earth sized transits. It will be able to detect transits of RV-planets by photometric monitoring if the geometric configuration results in a transit. For Hot Neptunes discovered from the ground, CHEOPS will be able to improve the transit light curve so that the radius can be determined precisely. Because of the host stars' brightness, high precision RV measurements will be possible for all targets. All planets observed in transit by CHEOPS will be validated and their masses will be known. This will provide valuable data for constraining the mass-radius relation of exoplanets, especially in the Neptune-mass regime. During the planned 3.5 year mission, about 500 targets will be observed. There will be 20% of open time available for the community to develop new science programmes. [less ▲]

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See detailA near-infrared interferometric survey of debris disc stars. II. CHARA/FLUOR observations of six early-type dwarfs
Absil, Olivier ULg; di Folco, E.; Mérand, A. et al

in Astronomy and Astrophysics (2008), 487

Aims. We aim at directly detecting the presence of optically thin circumstellar dust emission within the terrestrial planetary zone around main sequence stars known to harbour cold debris discs. The ... [more ▼]

Aims. We aim at directly detecting the presence of optically thin circumstellar dust emission within the terrestrial planetary zone around main sequence stars known to harbour cold debris discs. The present study focuses on a sample of six bright A- and early F-type stars. Methods: High-precision interferometric observations have been obtained in the near-infrared K band with the FLUOR instrument installed on the CHARA Array. The measured squared visibilities are compared to the expected visibility of the stellar photospheres based on theoretical photospheric models taking into account rotational distortion. We search for potential visibility reduction at short baselines, a direct piece of evidence for resolved circumstellar emission. Results: Our observations bring to light the presence of resolved circumstellar emission around one of the six target stars (zeta Aql) at the 5sigma level. The morphology of the emission source cannot be directly constrained because of the sparse spatial frequency sampling of our interferometric data. Using complementary adaptive optics observations and radial velocity measurements, we find that the presence of a low-mass companion is a likely origin for the excess emission. The potential companion is characterised by a K-band contrast of four magnitudes. It has a most probable mass of about 0.6~Msun and is expected to orbit between about 5.5 AU and 8 AU from its host star assuming a purely circular orbit. Nevertheless, by adjusting a physical debris disc model to the observed Spectral Energy Distribution of the zeta Aql system, we also show that the presence of hot dust within 10 AU from zeta Aql, producing a total thermal emission equal to 1.69 ± 0.31% of the photospheric flux in the K band, is another viable explanation for the observed near-infrared excess. Our re-interpretation of archival near- to far-infrared photometric measurements shows however that cold dust is not present around zeta Aql at the sensitivity limit of the IRS and MIPS instruments onboard Spitzer, and urges us to remove zeta Aql from the category of bona fide debris disc stars. Conclusions: The hot debris disc around Vega (Absil et al. 2006) currently remains our only secure resolved detection within the context of this survey, with six genuine early-type debris disc stars observed so far. Further observations will be needed to assess whether zeta Aql also belongs to this hot debris disc category. Partly based on observations collected at the European Southern Observatory, La Silla, Chile, under program IDs 073.C-0733, 077.C-0295 and 080.C-0712. [less ▲]

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