Thursday, December 19, 2013

Kepler-91b: A Dying Exoplanet With 55 Million Years Left to Live (at most)

Kepler-91b: a planet at the end of its life. Planet and giant host star properties via light-curve variations


Lillo-Box et al


The evolution of planetary systems is intimately linked to the evolution of their host star. Our understanding of the whole planetary evolution process is based on the large planet diversity observed so far. To date, only few tens of planets have been discovered orbiting stars ascending the Red Giant Branch. Although several theories have been proposed, the question of how planets die remains open due to the small number statistics. In this work we study the giant star Kepler-91 (KOI-2133) in order to determine the nature of a transiting companion. This system was detected by the Kepler Space Telescope. However, its planetary confirmation is needed. We confirm the planetary nature of the object transiting the star Kepler-91 by deriving a mass of Mp=0.88+0.17−0.33 MJup and a planetary radius of Rp=1.384+0.011−0.054 RJup. Asteroseismic analysis produces a stellar radius of R⋆=6.30±0.16 R⊙ and a mass of M⋆=1.31±0.10 M⊙. We find that its eccentric orbit (e=0.066+0.013−0.017) is just 1.32+0.07−0.22 R⋆ away from the stellar atmosphere at the pericenter. Kepler-91b could be the previous stage of the planet engulfment, recently detected for BD+48 740. Our estimations show that Kepler-91b will be swallowed by its host star in less than 55 Myr. Among the confirmed planets around giant stars, this is the planetary-mass body closest to its host star. At pericenter passage, the star subtends an angle of 48∘, covering around 10% of the sky as seen from the planet. The planetary atmosphere seems to be inflated probably due to the high stellar irradiation.

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