Transiting exoplanets from the CoRoT space mission VIII. CoRoT-7b: the first Super-Earth with measured radius

Astronomy and Astrophysics (Impact Factor: 4.38). 12/2009; 506(1):287-302.
Source: DLR


Copyright © The European Southern Observatory (ESO) Aims. We report the discovery of very shallow (ΔF/F ≈ 3.4×10−4), periodic dips in the light curve of an active V = 11.7 G9V star observed by the CoRoT satellite, which we interpret as caused by a transiting companion. We describe the 3-colour CoRoT data and complementary ground-based observations that support the planetary nature of the companion. Methods. We used CoRoT colours information, good angular resolution ground-based photometric observations in- and out- of transit, adaptive optics imaging, near-infrared spectroscopy, and preliminary results from radial velocity measurements, to test the diluted eclipsing binary scenarios. The parameters of the host star were derived from optical spectra, which were then combined with the CoRoT light curve to derive parameters of the companion. Results. We examined all conceivable cases of false positives carefully, and all the tests support the planetary hypothesis. Blends with separation >0.40'' or triple systems are almost excluded with a 8 × 10−4 risk left. We conclude that, inasmuch we have been exhaustive, we have discovered a planetary companion, named CoRoT-7b, for which we derive a period of 0.853 59 ± 3 × 10−5 day and a radius of Rp = 1.68 ± 0.09 REarth. Analysis of preliminary radial velocity data yields an upper limit of 21 MEarth for the companion mass, supporting the finding. Conclusions. CoRoT-7b is very likely the first Super-Earth with a measured radius. This object illustrates what will probably become a common situation with missions such as Kepler, namely the need to establish the planetary origin of transits in the absence of a firm radial velocity detection and mass measurement. The composition of CoRoT-7b remains loosely constrained without a precise mass. A very high surface temperature on its irradiated face, ≈1800–2600 K at the substellar point, and a very low one, ≈50 K, on its dark face assuming no atmosphere, have been derived.

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    • "These low densities indicate substantial envelopes of light gases such as H and He or possibly H 2 O and H. Could it be that these " super-Earths " could not lose their initial proto-atmospheres and that they are, in fact, " mini-Neptunes " ? In fact, the only observed " super-Earths " with higher densities which indicate rocky bodies such as the CoRoT-7b (Léger et al. 2009), , Kepler-10b (Batalha et al. 2011), Kepler-18b or Kepler-20b (Borucki et al. 2011) are much closer to their star, at a distance where really strong atmospheric escape is expected. "
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