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A Saturn-Mass Planet beyond the Snowline of an M Dwarf Star

21 Jul 2015, 23:00 UTC
A Saturn-Mass Planet beyond the Snowline of an M Dwarf Star
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Gravitational microlensing is a powerful technique for detecting exoplanets that orbit their host stars beyond the snowline (i.e. the distance from a star where temperatures are cool enough for water-ice and other volatiles to condense). Beyond the snowline, a protoplanetary disk around a star is expected to contain more material, allowing for the formation of more massive planets. When a foreground star crosses the line-of-sight to a background star, the gravity of the foreground star can act as a lens, magnifying the light from the background star. The change in the brightness of the background star with time is measured in the form of a light curve. If the background star hosts a planet, the planet’s own gravity can induce a “spike” in the light curve of the background star.Using the technique of gravitational microlensing, Fukui et al. (2015) present the discovery of a Saturn-mass planet with ~0.34 times the mass of Jupiter orbiting an M dwarf star with ~0.39 times the Sun’s mass at a projected separation of either ~0.74 AU (close model) or ~4.3 AU (wide model). The planet is identified as OGLE-2012-BLG-0563Lb and it is the 5th sub-Jupiter-mass (i.e. between 0.2 to 1.0 times the mass of ...

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