Volume 538, February 2012
|Number of page(s)||8|
|Section||Planets and planetary systems|
|Published online||26 January 2012|
Estimating transiting exoplanet masses from precise optical photometry
1 Institute of Astronomy, Madingley Road, Cambridge CB3 0HA, UK
2 Leibniz-Institut für Astrophysik Potsdam (AIP), An der Sternwarte 16, 14482 Potsdam, Germany
3 Hamburger Sternwarte, Gojenbergsweg 112, 21029 Hamburg, Germany
Received: 14 February 2011
Accepted: 9 December 2011
We present a theoretical analysis of the optical light curves (LCs) for short-period high-mass transiting extrasolar planet systems. Our method considers the primary transit, the secondary eclipse, and the overall phase shape of the LC between the occultations. Phase variations arise from (i) reflected and thermally emitted light by the planet; (ii) the ellipsoidal shape of the star due to the gravitational pull of the planet; and (iii) the Doppler shift of the stellar light as the star orbits the center of mass of the system. Our full model of the out-of-eclipse variations contains information about the planetary mass, orbital eccentricity, the orientation of periastron and the planet’s albedo. For a range of hypothetical systems we demonstrate that the ellipsoidal variations (ii) can be large enough to be distinguished from the remaining components and that this effect can be used to constrain the planet’s mass. To detect the ellipsoidal variations, the LC requires a minimum precision of 10-4, which coincides with the precision of the Kepler mission. As a test of our approach, we consider the Kepler LC of the transiting object HAT-P-7. We are able to estimate the mass of the companion, and confirm its planetary nature solely from the LC data. Future space missions, such as PLATO and the James Webb Space Telescope with even higher photometric precision, will be able to reduce the errors in all parameters. Detailed modeling of any out-of-eclipse variations seen in new systems will be a useful diagnostic tool prior to the requisite ground based radial velocity follow-up.
Key words: techniques: photometric / methods: data analysis / planetary systems / methods: analytical / celestial mechanics
© ESO, 2012
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