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Low Density Planets of Kepler-51

19 Jan 2014, 09:00 UTC
Low Density Planets of Kepler-51
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Kepler-51 is a fairly young star with an estimated age of ~300 million years and it is also slightly more luminous than the Sun. Observations of Kepler-51 by NASA’s Kepler space telescope found that it hosts three transiting planet candidates - Kepler-51 b, Kepler-51 c and KOI-620.02. The three planets have orbital periods of 45.2 days (Kepler-51 b), 85.3 days (Kepler-51 c) and 130.2 days (KOI-620.02), placing them close to a 1:2:3 resonance. By measuring the amount of light each planet blocks as it transits its host star, the size of each planet is found to be 7.1 (Kepler-51 b), 9.0 (Kepler-51 c) and 9.7 (KOI-620.02) times the Earth’s diameter.Figure 1: Artist’s impression of a gaseous planet.Figure 2: Phase-folded transit light curves of Kepler-51 b (top), Kepler-51 c (middle) and KOI-620.02 (bottom). Black dots are the observed fluxes and coloured solid lines show the best-fit models.As the three planets circle their host star, they gravitationally perturb one another. This leads to transit timing variations (TTVs) where each planet transits the host star at slightly earlier or later timings, deviating somewhat from strictly periodic transit intervals. By studying the TTVs, Masuda (2014) derived the mass for each of the three planets ...

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