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Systemic - Characterizing Extrasolar Planetary Systems

Inside Information

17 Mar 2010, 17:32 UTC
Inside Information
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HAT-P-13c could easily wind up being 2010’s version of HD 80606b — a long-shot transit candidate that pans out to enable extraordinary follow-up characterization, while simultaneously allowing small-telescope ground-based observers to stunt on the transit-hunting space missions.
The HAT-P-13 system has already gotten quite a bit of oklo.org press (see articles [1], [2], and [3]). It generates intense interest because it’s the only known configuration where a transiting short-period planet is accompanied by a long-period companion planet on an orbit that’s reasonably well characterized by radial velocity measurements. Right after the system was discovered, we showed that if the orbits of the two planets are coplanar, then one can probe the interior structure of the transiting inner planet by getting a precise measurement of its orbital eccentricity. The idea is that the system has tidally evolved to an eccentricity fixed point, in which the apsidal lines of the two planets precess at the same rate. Both the precession rate and the inner planet’s eccentricity are single-valued functions of the degree of mass concentration within the transiting planet.
Early this year, Rosemary Mardling expanded the analysis to the situation where the two planets are not orbiting in the same plane (her ...

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