Volume 572, December 2014
|Number of page(s)||10|
|Section||Planets and planetary systems|
|Published online||01 December 2014|
Dusty tails of evaporating exoplanets
I. Constraints on the dust composition
1 Anton Pannekoek Institute for Astronomy, University of Amsterdam, Science Park 904, 1098 XH Amsterdam, The Netherlands
2 Department of Astrophysics/IMAPP, Radboud University Nijmegen, PO Box 9010, 6500 GL Nijmegen, The Netherlands
Received: 28 August 2014
Accepted: 12 October 2014
Context. Recently, two exoplanet candidates have been discovered, KIC 12557548b and KOI-2700b, whose transit profiles show evidence of a comet-like tail of dust trailing the planet, thought to be fed by the evaporation of the planet’s surface.
Aims. We aim to put constraints on the composition of the dust ejected by these objects from the shape of their transit light curves.
Methods. We derive a semi-analytical expression for the attenuation of the dust cross-section in the tail, incorporating the sublimation of dust grains as well as their drift away from the planet. This expression shows that the length of the tail is highly sensitive to the sublimation properties of the dust material. We compute tail lengths for several possible dust compositions, and compare these to observational estimates of the tail lengths of KIC 12557548b and KOI-2700b, inferred from their light curves.
Results. The observed tail lengths are consistent with dust grains composed of corundum (Al2O3) or iron-rich silicate minerals (e.g., fayalite, Fe2SiO4). Pure iron and carbonaceous compositions are not favoured. In addition, we estimate dust mass loss rates of 1.7 ± 0.5 M⊕ Gyr-1 for KIC 12557548b, and > 0.007 M⊕ Gyr-1 (1σ lower limit) for KOI-2700b.
Key words: eclipses / occultations / planets and satellites: composition / planets and satellites: individual: KIC 12557548b / planets and satellites: individual: KOI-2700b / planet-star interactions
© ESO, 2014
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