University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Exoplanet Meetings > Measuring orbital eccentricity using asteroseismology: small planets in Kepler multi-planet systems have low eccentricities

Measuring orbital eccentricity using asteroseismology: small planets in Kepler multi-planet systems have low eccentricities

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Dr B.-O. Demory.

Solar system planets move on almost circular orbits. In strong contrast, many massive gas giant exoplanets travel on highly elliptical orbits, whereas the shape of the orbits of smaller, more terrestrial, exoplanets remained largely elusive. Knowing the eccentricity distribution in systems of small planets would be important as it holds information about the planet’s formation and evolution, and influences its habitability. I present measurements made using photometry from the Kepler satellite and utilizing a method relying on Kepler’s second law, which relates the duration of a planetary transit to its orbital eccentricity, if the stellar density is known. Our sample consists of 28 bright stars with precise asteroseismic density measurements. These stars host 74 planets with an average radius of 2.6 Rearth . We find that the eccentricity of planets in Kepler multi-planet systems is low and can be described by a Rayleigh distribution with s = 0.049 ± 0.013. This is in full agreement with solar system eccentricities, but in contrast to the eccentricity distributions previously derived for exoplanets from radial velocity studies. Our findings are helpful in identifying which planets are habitable because the location of the habitable zone depends on eccentricity, and to determine occurrence rates inferred for these planets because planets on circular orbits are less likely to transit. For measuring eccentricity it is crucial to detect and remove Transit Timing Variations (TTVs), and we present some previously unreported TTVs. Finally transit durations help distinguish between false positives and true planets and we use our measurements to confirm six new exoplanets.

This talk is part of the Exoplanet Meetings series.

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