Kepler's First Rocky Planet: Kepler-10b
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NASA's Kepler Mission uses transit photometry to determine the frequency of Earth-size planets in or near the habitable zone of Sun-like stars. The mission reached a milestone toward meeting that goal: the discovery of its first rocky planet, Kepler-10b. Two distinct sets of transit events were detected: (1) a 152 ± 4 ppm dimming lasting 1.811 ± 0.024 hr with ephemeris T [BJD] =2454964.57375[superscript +0.00060 [subscript –0.00082]] + N*0.837495[superscript +0.000004 [subscript –0.000005]] days and (2) a 376 ± 9 ppm dimming lasting 6.86 ± 0.07 hr with ephemeris T [BJD] =2454971.6761[superscript +0.0020 [subscript –0.0023]] + N*45.29485[superscript +0.00065 [subscript –0.00076]] days. Statistical tests on the photometric and pixel flux time series established the viability of the planet candidates triggering ground-based follow-up observations. Forty precision Doppler measurements were used to confirm that the short-period transit event is due to a planetary companion. The parent star is bright enough for asteroseismic analysis. Photometry was collected at 1 minute cadence for >4 months from which we detected 19 distinct pulsation frequencies. Modeling the frequencies resulted in precise knowledge of the fundamental stellar properties. Kepler-10 is a relatively old (11.9 ± 4.5 Gyr) but otherwise Sun-like main-sequence star with T eff = 5627 ± 44 K, M sstarf = 0.895 ± 0.060 M [subscript ☉], and R sstarf = 1.056 ± 0.021 R [subscript ☉]. Physical models simultaneously fit to the transit light curves and the precision Doppler measurements yielded tight constraints on the properties of Kepler-10b that speak to its rocky composition: M P = 4.56[superscript +1.17 [subscript –1.29]] M [subscript ⊕], R P = 1.416[superscript +0.033 [subscript –0.036]] R [subscript ⊕], and [subscript ρP] = 8.8[superscript +2.1 [subscript –2.9]] g cm[superscript –3]. Kepler-10b is the smallest transiting exoplanet discovered to date.
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences
Batalha, Natalie M. et al. “Kepler's First Rocky Planet: Kepler-10b.” The Astrophysical Journal 729.1 (2011): 27. © 2011 IOP Publishing
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