Three statistically validated K2 transiting warm Jupiter exoplanets confirmed as low-mass stars

13 Sep 2017  ·  Shporer Avi, Zhou George, Vanderburg Andrew, Fulton Benjamin J., Isaacson Howard, Bieryla Allyson, Torres Guillermo, Morton Timothy D., Bento Joao, Berlind Perry, Calkins Michael L., Esquerdo Gilbert A., Howard Andrew W., Latham David W. ·

We have identified three K2 transiting star-planet systems, K2-51 (EPIC 202900527), K2-67 (EPIC 206155547), and K2-76 (EPIC 206432863), as stellar binaries with low-mass stellar secondaries. The three systems were statistically validated as transiting planets, and through measuring their orbits by radial velocity monitoring we have derived the companion masses to be $0.1459^{+0.0029}_{-0.0032}$ $M_{Sun}$ (EPIC 202900527 B), $0.1612^{+0.0072}_{-0.0067}$ $M_{Sun}$ (EPIC 206155547 B), and $0.0942 \pm 0.0019$ $M_{Sun}$ (EPIC 206432863 B)... Therefore they are not planets but small stars, part of the small sample of low-mass stars with measured radius and mass. The three systems are at an orbital period range of $12-24$ days, and the secondaries have a radius within $0.9-1.9$ $R_J$, not inconsistent with the properties of warm Jupiter planets. These systems illustrate some of the existing challenges in the statistical validation approach. We point out a few possible origins for the initial misclassification of these objects, including poor characterization of the host star, the difficulty in detecting a secondary eclipse in systems on an eccentric orbit, and the difficulty in distinguishing between the smallest stars and gas giant planets as the two populations have indistinguishable radius distributions. Our work emphasizes the need for obtaining medium-precision radial velocity measurements to distinguish between companions that are small stars, brown dwarfs, and gas giant planets. read more

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Solar and Stellar Astrophysics