Two massive rocky planets transiting a K-dwarf 6.5 parsecs away [EPA]

HD 219134 is a K-dwarf star at a distance of 6.5 parsecs around which several low-mass planets were recently discovered. The Spitzer space telescope detected a transit of the innermost of these planets, HD 219134 b, whose mass and radius (4.5 MEarth and 1.6 REarth respectively) are consistent with a rocky composition. Here, we report new highprecision time-series photometry of the star acquired with Spitzer revealing that the second innermost planet of the system, HD 219134 c, is also transiting. A global analysis of the Spitzer transit light curves and the most up-to-date HARPS-N velocity data set yields mass and radius estimations of 4.74+-0.19 MEarth and 1.602+-0.055 REarth for HD 219134 b, and of 4.36+-0.22 MEarth and 1.511+-0.047 REarth for HD 219134 c. These values suggest rocky compositions for both planets. Thanks to the proximity and the small size of their host star (0.778+-0.005 Rsun), these two transiting exoplanets – the nearest to the Earth to date – are well-suited for a detailed characterization (precision of a few percent on mass and radius, constraints on the atmospheric properties…) that could give important constraints on the nature and formation mechanism of the ubiquitous short-period planets of a few Earth masses.

Read this paper on arXiv…

M. Gillon, B. Demory, V. Grootel, et. al.
Tue, 7 Mar 17

Comments: 16 pages