Tuesday, February 21, 2017

DEPENDENCE OF SMALL PLANET FREQUENCY ON STELLAR METALLICITY HIDDEN BY THEIR PREVALENCE


Authors:

Zhu et al

Abstract:

The dependence of gas giant planet occurrence rate on stellar metallicity has been firmly established. We extend this so-called planet–metallicity correlation to broader ranges of metallicities and planet masses/radii. In particular, we assume that the planet–metallicity correlation is a power law below some critical saturation threshold, and that the probability of hosting at least one planet is unity for stars with metallicity above the threshold. We then are able to explain the discrepancy between the tentative detection and null detection in previous studies regarding the planet–metallicity correlation for small planets. In particular, we find that the null detection of this correlation can be attributed to the combination of high planet occurrence rate and low detection efficiency. Therefore, a planet–metallicity correlation for small planets cannot be ruled out. We propose that stars with metallicities lower than the solar value are better targets for testing the planet–metallicity correlation for small planets.

No Sign of a Second Planet Around Proxima Centauri


Authors:

Damasso et al

Abstract:

The detection and characterization of Earth-like planets with Doppler signals of the order of 1 m/s currently represent one of the greatest challenge for extrasolar-planet hunters. As results for such findings are often controversial, it is desirable to provide independent confirmations of the discoveries. Testing different models for the suppression of non-Keplerian stellar signals usually plaguing radial velocity data is essential to ensuring findings are robust and reproducible. Using an alternative treatment of the stellar noise to that discussed in the discovery paper, we re-analyze the radial velocity data that led to the detection of a candidate terrestrial planet orbiting the star Proxima Centauri. We aim at confirming the existence of this outstanding planet, and test the existence of a second planetary signal. Our technique jointly models Keplerian signals and residual correlated signals (the noise) in radial velocities using Gaussian Processes. We analyse only radial velocity measurements without including other ancillary data. In a second step, we compare our outputs with results coming from photometry, to provide a consistent physical interpretation. Our analysis is performed in a Bayesian framework to quantify the robustness of our findings. We show that the correlated noise can be successfully modeled as a Gaussian process regression. It contains a periodic term modulated on the stellar rotation period and characterized by an evolutionary timescale of the order of 1 year. Both findings appear to be robust when compared with results obtained from archival photometry. We confirm the existence of a coherent signal described by a Keplerian orbit equation that can be attributed to the planet Proximab, and provide an independent estimate of the planetary parameters. Our Bayesian analysis dismisses the existence of a second planetary signal in the present dataset.

The Fate of Tatooine-like Circumbinary Exoplanets


Authors:

Kostov et al

Abstract:

Inspired by the recent Kepler discoveries of circumbinary planets orbiting nine close binary stars, we explore the fate of the former as the latter evolve off the main sequence. We combine binary star evolution models with dynamical simulations to study the orbital evolution of these planets as their hosts undergo common-envelope (CE) stages, losing in the process a tremendous amount of mass on dynamical timescales. Five of the systems experience at least one Roche-lobe overflow and CE stage (Kepler-1647 experiences three), and the binary stars either shrink to very short orbits or coalesce; two systems trigger a double-degenerate supernova explosion. Kepler's circumbinary planets predominantly remain gravitationally bound at the end of the CE phase, migrate to larger orbits, and may gain significant eccentricity; their orbital expansion can be more than an order of magnitude and can occur over the course of a single planetary orbit. The orbits these planets can reach are qualitatively consistent with those of the currently known post-CE, eclipse-time variations circumbinary candidates. Our results also show that circumbinary planets can experience both modes of orbital expansion (adiabatic and nonadiabatic) if their host binaries undergo more than one CE stage; multiplanet circumbinary systems like Kepler-47 can experience both modes during the same CE stage. Additionally, unlike Mercury orbiting the Sun, a circumbinary planet with the same semimajor axis can survive the CE evolution of a close binary star with a total mass of 1 ${M}_{\odot }$.

Monday, February 20, 2017

The Ideal Stellar Mass for Long Term Habitability of Worlds


Authors:

Oishi et al

Abstract:

In addition to the habitable zone (HZ), the UV habitable zone (UV-HZ) is important when considering the existence of persistent life in the universe. The UV-HZ is defined as the area where the UV radiation field from a host star is moderate for persistent life existence. This is because UV is necessary for the synthesis of biochemical compounds. The UV-HZ must overlap the HZ when life appears and evolves. In this paper, following our previous study of the HZ, we examine the UV-HZ in cases with a stellar mass range from 0.08 to 4.00 M ☉ with various metallicities during the main sequence phase. This mass range was chosen because we are interested in an environment similar to that of Earth. The effect of metallicity is reflected in the spectrum of the host stars, and we reexamine it in the context of the UV-HZ. The present work shows the effect of metallicity when that in the UV-HZ is less than that in the HZ. Furthermore, we find that the chance of persistent life existence declines as the metallicity decreases, as long as the UV radiation is not protected and/or boosted by any mechanisms. This is because the overlapped region of a persistent HZ and UV-HZ decreases. We find that the most appropriate stellar mass for the persistence of life existence is from 1.0 to 1.5 M ☉ with metallicity Z = 0.02, and only about 1.2 M ☉ with Z = 0.002. When Z = 0.0002, the chance of persistent life existence is very low, assuming that the ocean does not protect the life from UV radiation.

Early Terrestrial Surface UV Environment Impacts on Prebiotic Chemistry


Authors:

Ranjan et al

Abstract:

The UV environment is a key boundary condition for the origin of life. However, considerable uncertainty exists as to planetary conditions and hence surface UV at abiogenesis. Here, we present two-stream multi-layer clear-sky calculations of the UV surface radiance on Earth at 3.9 Ga to constrain the UV surface fluence as a function of albedo, solar zenith angle (SZA), and atmospheric composition. Variation in albedo and latitude (through SZA) can affect maximum photoreaction rates by a factor of >10.4; for the same atmosphere, photoreactions can proceed an order of magnitude faster at the equator of a snowball Earth than at the poles of a warmer world. Surface conditions are important considerations when computing prebiotic UV fluences. For climatically reasonable levels of CO2, fluence shortward of 189 nm is screened out, meaning that prebiotic chemistry is robustly shielded from variations in UV fluence due to solar flares or variability. Strong shielding from CO2 also means that the UV surface fluence is insensitive to plausible levels of CH4, O2, and O3. At scattering wavelengths, UV fluence drops off comparatively slowly with increasing CO2 levels. However, if SO2 and/or H2S can build up to the 1-100 ppm level as hypothesized by some workers, then they can dramatically suppress surface fluence and hence prebiotic photoprocesses. H2O is a robust UV shield for

Tracing Carbon From the Interior of Stars to Surface of Planets


Authors:

Zuirys et al

Abstract:

The chemical history of carbon is traced from its origin in stellar nucleosynthesis to its delivery to planet surfaces. The molecular carriers of this element are examined at each stage in the cycling of interstellar organic material and their eventual incorporation into solar system bodies. The connection between the various interstellar carbon reservoirs is also examined. Carbon has two stellar sources: supernova explosions and mass loss from evolved stars. In the latter case, the carbon is dredged up from the interior and then ejected into a circumstellar envelope, where a rich and unusual C-based chemistry occurs. This molecular material is eventually released into the general interstellar medium through planetary nebulae. It is first incorporated into diffuse clouds, where carbon is found in polyatomic molecules such as H2CO, HCN, HNC, c-C3H2, and even C60+. These objects then collapse into dense clouds, the sites of star and planet formation. Such clouds foster an active organic chemistry, producing compounds with a wide range of functional groups with both gas-phase and surface mechanisms. As stars and planets form, the chemical composition is altered by increasing stellar radiation, as well as possibly by reactions in the presolar nebula. Some molecular, carbon-rich material remains pristine, however, encapsulated in comets, meteorites, and interplanetary dust particles, and is delivered to planet surfaces.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

First resolved image of the HD 114082 debris disk in the Lower Centaurus Crux with SPHERE


Authors:

Wahhaj et al

Abstract:

We present the first resolved image of the debris disk around the 16 ± 8 Myr old star, HD 114082. The observation was made in the H-band using the SPHERE instrument. The star is at a distance of 92 ± 6 pc in the Lower Centaurus Crux association. Using a Markov chain Monte Carlo analysis, we determined that the debris is likely in the form of a dust ring with an inner edge of 27.7+2.8-3.5 au, position angle –74.3°+0.5-1.5, and an inclination with respect to the line of sight of 6.7°+3.8-0.4. The disk imaged in scattered light has a surface density that is declining with radius of ~r-4, which is steeper than expected for grain blowout by radiation pressure. We find only marginal evidence (2σ) of eccentricity and rule out planets more massive than 1.0 MJup orbiting within 1 au of the inner edge of the ring, since such a planet would have disrupted the disk. The disk has roughly the same fractional disk luminosity (Ldisk/L∗ = 3.3 × 10-3) as HR 4796 A and β Pictoris, however it was not detected by previous instrument facilities most likely because of its small angular size (radius ~0.4′′), low albedo (~0.2), and low scattering efficiency far from the star due to high scattering anisotropy. With the arrival of extreme adaptive optics systems, such as SPHERE and GPI, the morphology of smaller, fainter, and more distant debris disks are being revealed, providing clues to planet-disk interactions in young protoplanetary systems.