HAT-P-26b: A Low-density Neptune-mass Planet Transiting a K Star
ABSTRACT We report the discovery of HAT-P-26b, a transiting extrasolar planet orbiting the moderately bright V = 11.744 K1 dwarf star GSC 0320–01027, with a period P = 4.234516 ± 0.000015 days, transit epoch Tc = 2455304.65122 ± 0.00035 (BJD; Barycentric Julian dates throughout the paper are calculated from Coordinated Universal Time (UTC)), and transit duration 0.1023 ± 0.0010 days. The host star has a mass of 0.82 ± 0.03 M ☉, radius of 0.79+0.10 –0.04 R ☉, effective temperature 5079 ± 88 K, and metallicity [Fe/H] = -0.04 ± 0.08. The planetary companion has a mass of 0.059 ± 0.007 M J, and radius of 0.565+0.072 –0.032 R J yielding a mean density of 0.40 ± 0.10 g cm-3. HAT-P-26b is the fourth Neptune-mass transiting planet discovered to date. It has a mass that is comparable to those of Neptune and Uranus, and slightly smaller than those of the other transiting Super-Neptunes, but a radius that is ~65% larger than those of Neptune and Uranus, and also larger than those of the other transiting Super-Neptunes. HAT-P-26b is consistent with theoretical models of an irradiated Neptune-mass planet with a 10 M ⊕ heavy element core that comprises 50% of its mass with the remainder contained in a significant hydrogen-helium envelope, though the exact composition is uncertain as there are significant differences between various theoretical models at the Neptune-mass regime. The equatorial declination of the star makes it easily accessible to both Northern and Southern ground-based facilities for follow-up observations.