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Beyond Earthly Skies

Star-Hugging Planets

22 Aug 2013, 12:13 UTC
Star-Hugging Planets
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A preliminary search for very short period transiting planets in the publicly available Kepler dataset has revealed 13 planet candidates with orbital periods ranging from 3.3 to 10 hours. Confirming whether these planet candidates are indeed planets will require additional follow-up observations and data analysis. If revealed to be true planets, they can only be small rocky planets since gas giant planets cannot survive at such small distances to their host stars.Even with just a few Earth masses, these planet candidates can induce stellar radial velocity signatures (~ 10 m/s) that are large enough to be detectable by current ground-based instruments. The reason is because these planet candidates orbit incredibly close to their host stars and exert much larger gravitational tuggings on their host stars as compared to similar planets orbiting further out. For example, a 10 Earth mass planet in a 5 hour orbit around a solar mass star induces a radial velocity of 10 m/s.The upcoming Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) mission has a short observational cadence length of one minute. This makes TESS ideal for finding transiting planets with very short orbital periods that may be missed by Kepler’s 30 minutes observational cadence. If very short period ...

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