A terrestrial-sized exoplanet at the snow line of TRAPPIST-1 [EPA]


The TRAPPIST-1 system is the first transiting planet system found orbiting an ultra-cool dwarf star. At least seven planets similar to Earth in radius and in mass were previously found to transit this host star. Subsequently, TRAPPIST-1 was observed as part of the K2 mission and, with these new data, we report the measurement of an 18.764 d orbital period for the outermost planet, TRAPPIST-1h, which was unconstrained until now. This value matches our theoretical expectations based on Laplace relations and places TRAPPIST-1h as the seventh member of a complex chain, with three-body resonances linking every member. We find that TRAPPIST-1h has a radius of 0.715 Earth radii and an equilibrium temperature of 169 K, placing it at the snow line. We have also measured the rotational period of the star at 3.3 d and detected a number of flares consistent with an active, middle-aged, late M dwarf.

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R. Luger, M. Sestovic, E. Kruse, et. al.
Tue, 14 Mar 17

Comments: 36 pages, 8 figure, 2 tables. Submitted to Nat. Astron. on 3/10/2017


Thermochemistry and vertical mixing in the tropospheres of Uranus and Neptune: How convection inhibition can affect the derivation of deep oxygen abundances [EPA]


Thermochemical models have been used in the past to constrain the deep oxygen abundance in the gas and ice giant planets from tropospheric CO spectroscopic measurements. Knowing the oxygen abundance of these planets is a key to better understand their formation. These models have widely used dry and/or moist adiabats to extrapolate temperatures from the measured values in the upper troposphere down to the level where the thermochemical equilibrium between H$_2$O and CO is established. The mean molecular mass gradient produced by the condensation of H$_2$O stabilizes the atmosphere against convection and results in a vertical thermal profile and H$_2$O distribution that departs significantly from previous estimates. We revisit O/H estimates using an atmospheric structure that accounts for the inhibition of the convection by condensation. We use a thermochemical network and the latest observations of CO in Uranus and Neptune to calculate the internal oxygen enrichment required to satisfy both these new estimates of the thermal profile and the observations. We also present the current limitations of such modeling.

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T. Cavalie, O. Venot, F. Selsis, et. al.
Tue, 14 Mar 17

Comments: 33 pages, 11 figures, accepted for publication in Icarus (2017)

Impact of radiogenic heating on the formation conditions of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko [EPA]


Because of the high fraction of refractory material present in comets, the heat produced by the radiogenic decay of elements such as aluminium and iron can be high enough to induce the loss of ultravolatile species such as nitrogen, argon or carbon monoxide during their accretion phase in the protosolar nebula. Here, we investigate how heat generated by the radioactive decay of 26Al and 60Fe influences the formation of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, as a function of its accretion time and size of parent body. We use an existing thermal evolution model that includes various phase transitions, heat transfer in the ice-dust matrix, and gas diffusion throughout the porous material, based on thermodynamic parameters derived from Rosetta observations. Two possibilities are considered: either, to account for its bilobate shape, 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko was assembled from two primordial ~2 kilometer-sized planetesimals, or it resulted from the disruption of a larger parent body with a size corresponding to that of comet Hale-Bopp (~70 km). To fully preserve its volatile content, we find that either 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko’s formation was delayed between ~2.2 and 7.7 Myr after that of Ca-Al-rich Inclusions in the protosolar nebula or the comet’s accretion phase took place over the entire time interval, depending on the primordial size of its parent body and the composition of the icy material considered. Our calculations suggest that the formation of 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is consistent with both its accretion from primordial building blocks formed in the nebula or from debris issued from the disruption of a Hale-Bopp-like body.

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O. Mousis, A. Drouard, P. Vernazza, et. al.
Tue, 14 Mar 17

Comments: Accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal Letters

Search for giant planets in M67 IV: survey results [EPA]


We present the results of a seven-year-long radial velocity survey of a sample of 88 main-sequence and evolved stars to reveal signatures of Jupiter-mass planets in the solar-age and solar-metallicity open cluster M67. We aim at studying the frequency of giant planets in this cluster with respect to the field stars. In addition, our sample is also ideal to perform a long-term study to compare the chemical composition of stars with and without giant planets in detail. We analyzed precise radial velocity (RV) measurements obtained with five different instruments. We conducted Monte Carlo simulations to estimate the occurrence rate of giant planets in our radial velocity survey. All the planets previously announced in this RV campaign with their properties are summarized here: 3 hot Jupiters around the main-sequence stars YBP1194, YBP1514, and YBP401, and 1 giant planet around the evolved star S364. Two additional planet candidates around the stars YBP778 and S978 are also analyzed in the present work. We discuss stars that exhibit large RV variability or trends individually. For 2 additional stars, long-term trends are compatible with new binary candidates or substellar objects, which increases the total number of binary candidates detected in our campaign to 14. Based on the Doppler-detected planets discovered in this survey, we find an occurrence of giant planets of ~18.0%(+12.0/-8.0%) in the selected period-mass range. This frequency is slightly higher but consistent within the errors with the estimate for the field stars, which leads to the general conclusion that open cluster and field statistics agree. However, we find that the rate of hot Jupiters in the cluster (~5.7%(+5.5/-3.0%)) is substantially higher than in the field.

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A. Brucalassi, J. Koppenhoefer, R. Saglia, et. al.
Tue, 14 Mar 17

Comments: Accepted by A&A

First evidence of external disc photoevaporation in a low mass star forming region: the case of IM Lup [SSA]


We model the radiatively driven flow from IM Lup — a large protoplanetary disc expected to be irradiated by only a weak external radiation field (at least 10$^4$ times lower than the UV field irradiating the Orion Nebula Cluster proplyds). We find that material at large radii ($>400$AU) in this disc is sufficiently weakly gravitationally bound that significant mass loss can be induced. Given the estimated values of the disc mass and accretion rate, the viscous timescale is long ($\sim10$Myr) so the main evolutionary behaviour for the first Myr of the disc’s lifetime is truncation of the disc by photoevaporation, with only modest changes effected by viscosity. We also produce approximate synthetic observations of our models, finding substantial emission from the flow which can explain the CO halo observed about IM Lup out to $\geq1000$AU. Solutions that are consistent with the extent of the observed CO emission generally imply that IM Lup is still in the process of having its disc outer radius truncated. We conclude that IM Lup is subject to substantial external photoevaporation, which raises the more general possibility that external irradiation of the largest discs can be of significant importance even in low mass star forming regions.

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T. Haworth, S. Facchini, C. Clarke, et. al.
Mon, 13 Mar 17

Comments: 5 pages, 5 figures. Accepted for publication in MNRAS letters

Statistical Analysis of Astrometric Errors for the Most Productive Asteroid Surveys [EPA]


We performed a statistical analysis of the astrometric errors for the major asteroid surveys. We analyzed the astrometric residuals as a function of observation epoch, observed brightness and rate of motion, finding that astrometric errors are larger for faint observations and some stations improved their astrometric quality over time. Based on this statistical analysis we develop a new weighting scheme to be used when performing asteroid orbit determination. The proposed weights result in ephemeris predictions that can be conservative by a factor as large as 1.5. However, the new scheme is more robust with respect to outliers and better handles faint detections.

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P. Veres, D. Farnocchia, S. Chesley, et. al.
Mon, 13 Mar 17

Comments: 25 pages, 11 figures, 5 tables

Orbital Evolution of Moons in Weakly Accreting Circumplanetary Disks [EPA]


We investigate the formation of hot and massive circumplanetary disks (CPDs) and the orbital evolution of satellites formed in these disks. Because of the comparatively small size-scale of the sub-disk, quick magnetic diffusion prevents the magnetorotational instability (MRI) from being well-developed at ionization levels that would allow MRI in the parent protoplanetary disk. In the absence of significant angular momentum transport, continuous mass supply from the parental protoplanetary disk leads to the formation of a massive CPD. We have developed an evolutionary model for this scenario and have estimated the orbital evolution of satellites within the disk. We find, in a certain temperature range, that inward migration of a satellite can be stopped by a change in the structure due to the opacity transitions. Moreover, by capturing second and third migrating satellites in mean motion resonances, a compact system in Laplace resonance can be formed in our disk models.

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Y. Fujii, H. Kobayashi, S. Takahashi, et. al.
Mon, 13 Mar 17

Comments: 10 pages, 9 figures, accepted for AJ