Seeing Double with K2: Testing Re-inflation with Two Remarkably Similar Planets around Red Giant Branch Stars

December 2017 • 2017AJ....154..254G

Authors • Grunblatt, Samuel K. • Huber, Daniel • Gaidos, Eric • Lopez, Eric D. • Howard, Andrew W. • Isaacson, Howard T. • Sinukoff, Evan • Vanderburg, Andrew • Nofi, Larissa • Yu, Jie • North, Thomas S. H. • Chaplin, William • Foreman-Mackey, Daniel • Petigura, Erik • Ansdell, Megan • Weiss, Lauren • Fulton, Benjamin • Lin, Douglas N. C.

Abstract • Despite more than 20 years since the discovery of the first gas giant planet with an anomalously large radius, the mechanism for planet inflation remains unknown. Here, we report the discovery of K2-132b, an inflated gas giant planet found with the NASA K2 Mission, and a revised mass for another inflated planet, K2-97b. These planets orbit on ≈9 day orbits around host stars that recently evolved into red giants. We constrain the irradiation history of these planets using models constrained by asteroseismology and Keck/High Resolution Echelle Spectrometer spectroscopy and radial velocity measurements. We measure planet radii of 1.31 ± 0.11 RJ and 1.30 ± 0.07 RJ, respectively. These radii are typical for planets receiving the current irradiation, but not the former, zero age main-sequence irradiation of these planets. This suggests that the current sizes of these planets are directly correlated to their current irradiation. Our precise constraints of the masses and radii of the stars and planets in these systems allow us to constrain the planetary heating efficiency of both systems as 0.03 %-0.02%0.03%. These results are consistent with a planet re-inflation scenario, but suggest that the efficiency of planet re-inflation may be lower than previously theorized. Finally, we discuss the agreement within 10% of the stellar masses and radii, and the planet masses, radii, and orbital periods of both systems, and speculate that this may be due to selection bias in searching for planets around evolved stars.


IPAC Authors


Benjamin Fulton

Assistant Scientist