Volume 541, May 2012
|Number of page(s)||10|
|Section||Planets and planetary systems|
|Published online||15 May 2012|
Comparing HARPS and Kepler surveys
The alignment of multiple-planet systems
1 Centro de Astrofísica, Universidade do Porto, Rua das Estrelas, 4150-762 Porto, Portugal
2 Observatoire Astronomique de l’Université de Genève, 51 Ch. des Maillettes, Sauverny 1290, Versoix, Suisse
3 Departamento de Física e Astronomia, Faculdade de Ciências, Universidade do Porto, Portugal
Received: 10 February 2012
Accepted: 26 March 2012
Context. The recent results of the HARPS and Kepler surveys provided us with a bounty of extrasolar systems. While the two teams extensively analyzed each of their data-sets, little work has been done comparing the two.
Aims. We study a subset of the planetary population whose characterization is simultaneously within reach of both instruments. We compare the statistical properties of planets in systems with msini > 5−10 M⊕ and R > 2 R⊕, as inferred from the HARPS and Kepler surveys, respectively. If we assume that the underlying population has the same characteristics, the different detection sensitivity to the orbital inclination relative to the line of sight allows us to probe the planets’ mutual inclination.
Methods. We considered the frequency of systems with one, two, and three planets as dictated by HARPS data. We used Kepler’s planetary period and host mass and radius distributions (corrected from detection bias) to model planetary systems in a simple, yet physically plausible way. We then varied the mutual inclination between planets in a system according to different prescriptions (completely aligned, Rayleigh distributions, and isotropic) and compared the transit frequencies with one, two, or three planets with those measured by Kepler.
Results. The results show that the two datasets are compatible, a remarkable result especially because there are no tunable knobs other than the assumed inclination distribution. For msini cutoffs of 7–10 M⊕, which are those expected to correspond to the radius cutoff of 2 R⊕, we conclude that the results are better described by a Rayleigh distribution with a mode of 1° or smaller. We show that the best-fit scenario only becomes a Rayleigh distribution with a mode of 5° if we assume a quite extreme mass-radius relationship for the planetary population.
Conclusions. These results have important consequences for our understanding of the role of several proposed formation and evolution mechanisms. They confirm that planets are likely to have been formed in a disk and show that most planetary systems evolve quietly without strong angular momentum exchanges such as those produced by Kozai mechanism or planet scattering.
Key words: planetary systems / techniques: radial velocities / techniques: photometric / surveys / methods: numerical / methods: statistical
© ESO, 2012
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