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A Second Super-Earth for K2-18

7 Dec 2017, 15:57 UTC
A Second Super-Earth for K2-18 Robin Dienel/ Carnegie Institution
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

The transiting red dwarf K2-18 is about 111 light years out in the general direction of the constellation Leo, with a mass of 40 percent of Sol’s. A super-Earth, K2-18b, was detected here in 2015 through light curve analysis of data from the reconfigured Kepler K2 mission, and we now have the first measurement of the planet’s mass, drawing on radial velocity data from HARPS. The two planet detection methods in conjunction thus firm up our knowledge of a possible habitable zone planet.
But they also reveal, in the analysis of Ryan Cloutier (University of Toronto) and colleagues, a second super-Earth, K2-18c, which turns out to be non-transiting, and therefore non-coplanar with K2-18b. As we saw yesterday, HARPS (High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher), is capable of drilling down to about one meter per second in the analysis of the stellar wobbles that radial velocity methods examine. The current data set gives us another interesting world while reminding us of the capabilities of the ESPRESSO spectrograph I talked about yesterday.

Image: An artist’s conception of planet K2-18b, its star K2-18 and the second planet K2-18c. Credit: Alex Boersma (www.alexboersma.com). Two things I like about this image: Its evocative feel, an ...

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