Volume 525, January 2011
|Number of page(s)||5|
|Section||Planets and planetary systems|
|Published online||29 November 2010|
An educated search for transiting habitable planets:
Targetting M dwarfs with known transiting planets
Institut d’Astrophysique et de Géophysique, Université de
Allée du 6 Août 17, Bat. B5C,
2 Observatoire de Genève, Université de Genève, 51 Chemin des Maillettes, 1290 Sauverny, Switzerland
3 Université Joseph Fourier Grenoble 1, Centre national de la recherche scientifique, Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Grenoble (LAOG), UMR 5571, 38041 Grenoble Cedex 09, France
4 Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, Department of Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA
5 Planetary Systems Branch, Code 693, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt, MD 20771, USA
Received: 11 February 2010
Accepted: 21 October 2010
Because the planets of a system form in a flattened disk, they are expected to share similar orbital inclinations at the end of their formation. The high-precision photometric monitoring of stars known to host a transiting planet could thus reveal the transits of one or more other planets. We investigate here the potential of this approach for the M dwarf GJ 1214 that hosts a transiting super-Earth. For this system, we infer the transit probabilities as a function of orbital periods. Using Monte-Carlo simulations we address both the cases for fully coplanar and for non-coplanar orbits, with three different choices of inclinations distribution for the non-coplanar case. GJ 1214 reveals to be a very promising target for the considered approach. Because of its small size, a ground-based photometric monitoring of this star could detect the transit of a habitable planet as small as the Earth, while a space-based monitoring could detect any transiting habitable planet down to the size of Mars. The mass measurement of such a small planet would be out of reach for current facilities, but we emphasize that a planet mass would not be needed to confirm the planetary nature of the transiting object. Furthermore, the radius measurement combined with theoretical arguments would help us to constrain the structure of the planet.
Key words: astrobiology / binaries: eclipsing / planetary systems / stars: individual: GJ 1214 / techniques: photometric
© ESO, 2010
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