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Systemic - Characterizing Extrasolar Planetary Systems

M for all and all for M

20 Dec 2009, 23:12 UTC
M for all and all for M
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I’m always impressed by the efficiency with which red dwarfs pack hydrogen, the stuff of flammable zeppelins, into such a small space: Gliese 1214 is more than twice as dense as led. The density of the Sun, on the other hand, is bubblegum by comparison.
Gliese 1214b’s orbital period is a mere 1.58 days. Its 0.014 AU separation from the system barycenter is the smallest yet measured for any planet. Yet because of the high red dwarf density, the star-planet configuration is actually rather spacious. Here’s the system to scale:

It’s interesting to compare this diagram with that of a genuinely close-in planet such as HAT-P-7, which actually has a somewhat longer 2.2 day orbital period:

For a given orbital period, a red dwarf fills much less of a planetary orbit than does a Sun-like star. If the occurrence rate of planets at a specified period is the same for stars of different masses, then one needs to look at $\sim(M_{\odot}/M_{\rm RD})^{2/3}$ times more red dwarfs than Sun-like stars to find a given number of transits with a particular period.
Gliese 1214b lies at enough stellar radii from Gliese 1214a that its a-priori transit probability was only about 7%. The ...

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