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Temperate Planets Circling Low-Mass Stars

31 Jan 2016, 22:00 UTC
Temperate Planets Circling Low-Mass Stars
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K2-26b and K2-9b are two small, temperate planets orbiting relatively nearby, low-mass stars. Both planets are larger than Earth but smaller than Neptune. Their sizes place them near the transition between Earth-like rocky planets and Neptune-like planets with thick gaseous envelopes. Both K2-26b and K2-9b transit their host stars, and were detected by K2, the re-purposed Kepler mission.Figure 1: Artist’s impression of a rocky planet.Figure 2: Transit light curve indicating the presence of K2-26b. Schlieder et al. (2016)K2-26b is estimated to have 2.67 times the radius of Earth and its orbital period around its host star is 14.57 days. The host star of K2-26b is located ~300 light years from Earth. It is a low-mass star with ~56 percent the Sun’s mass, ~52 percent the Sun’s radius, ~49 percent the Sun’s luminosity, and an effective temperature of around 3785 K.The time it takes for K2-26b to transit its host star is too long to be consistent with the planet having a circular orbit. Instead, the orbit of K2-26b around its host star is somewhat elongated, with an eccentricity of at least 0.14 with a 95 percent confidence. Due to its eccentric orbit, K2-26b is predicted to experience significant tidal heating, ...

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