Letter to the Editor
Observational consequences of the recently proposed Super-Earth orbiting GJ 436
Institut für Astrophysik, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Friedrich-Hund-Platz 1, 37077 Göttingen, Germany e-mail: [bean;seifahrt]@astro.physik.uni-goettingen.de
Accepted: 19 June 2008
Ribas and collaborators have recently proposed that an additional, ~5 planet orbits the transiting planet host star GJ 436. Long-term dynamical interactions between the two planets leading to eccentricity excitation might provide an explanation for the transiting planet's unexpectedly large orbital eccentricity. We examine whether the existence of such a second planet is supported by the available observational data when the short-term interactions that would result from its presence are accounted for. We find that the model for the system suggested by Ribas and collaborators lead to predictions that are strongly inconsistent with the measured host star radial velocities, transiting planet primary and secondary eclipse times, and transiting planet orbital inclinations. A search for an alternative two planet model that is consistent with the data yields a number of plausible solutions, although no single one stands out as particularly unique by giving a significantly better fit to the data than the nominal single planet model. We conclude that Ribas and collaborator's general hypothesis of an additional short-period planet in the GJ 436 system is still plausible, but that there is not sufficient evidence to support their claim of a planet detection.
Key words: stars: individual: GJ 436 / planetary systems
© ESO, 2008