How Thermal Evolution and Mass Loss Sculpt Populations of Super-Earths and Sub-Neptunes: Application to the Kepler-11 System and Beyond

Дата и время публикации : 2012-04-30T20:00:04Z

Авторы публикации и институты :
Eric D. Lopez
Jonathan J. Fortney
Neil K. Miller

Ссылка на журнал-издание: Ссылка на журнал-издание не найдена
Коментарии к cтатье: 17 pages, 7 figures. Accepted for publication in ApJ. Compared to the submitted version we made modest modifications to our mass loss model including reducing our default mass loss efficiency. However, the central conclusions of the paper are unchanged
Первичная категория: astro-ph.EP

Все категории : astro-ph.EP

Краткий обзор статьи: We use models of thermal evolution and XUV-driven mass loss to explore the composition and history of low-mass low-density transiting planets. We investigate the Kepler-11 system in detail and provide estimates of both the current and past planetary compositions. We find that a H/He atmosphere on Kepler-11b is highly vulnerable to mass loss. By comparing to formation models, we show that in situ formation of the system is unlikely. Instead we propose that it is a water-rich system of sub-Neptunes that migrated from beyond the snow line. For the broader population of observed planets, we show that there is a threshold in bulk planet density and incident flux above which no low-mass transiting planets have been observed. We suggest that this threshold is due to the instability of H/He atmospheres to XUV-driven mass loss. Importantly, we find that this flux-density threshold is well reproduced by our thermal evolution/contraction models that incorporate a standard mass loss prescription. Treating the planets’ contraction history is essential because the planets have significantly larger radii during the early era of high XUV fluxes. Over time low mass planets with H/He envelopes can be transformed into water-dominated worlds with steam atmospheres or rocky super-Earths. Finally, we use this threshold to provide likely minimum masses and radial velocity amplitudes for the general population of Kepler candidates. Likewise, we use this threshold to provide constraints on the maximum radii of low-mass planets found by radial velocity surveys.

Category: Physics