Exploring Kepler Giant Planets in the Habitable Zone

June 2018 • 2018ApJ...860...67H

Authors • Hill, Michelle L. • Kane, Stephen R. • Seperuelo Duarte, Eduardo • Kopparapu, Ravi K. • Gelino, Dawn M. • Wittenmyer, Robert A.

Abstract • The Kepler mission found hundreds of planet candidates within the Habitable Zones (HZ) of their host star, including over 70 candidates with radii larger than three Earth radii (R ) within the optimistic HZ (OHZ). These giant planets are potential hosts to large terrestrial satellites (or exomoons) which would also exist in the HZ. We calculate the occurrence rates of giant planets (R p = 3.0-25 R ) in the OHZ, and find a frequency of (6.5 ± 1.9)% for G stars, (11.5 ± 3.1)% for K stars, and (6 ± 6)% for M stars. We compare this with previously estimated occurrence rates of terrestrial planets in the HZ of G, K, and M stars and find that if each giant planet has one large terrestrial moon then these moons are less likely to exist in the HZ than terrestrial planets. However, if each giant planet holds more than one moon, then the occurrence rates of moons in the HZ would be comparable to that of terrestrial planets, and could potentially exceed them. We estimate the mass of each planet candidate using the mass-radius relationship developed by Chen & Kipping. We calculate the Hill radius of each planet to determine the area of influence of the planet in which any attached moon may reside, then calculate the estimated angular separation of the moon and planet for future imaging missions. Finally, we estimate the radial velocity semi-amplitudes of each planet for use in follow-up observations.


IPAC Authors