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  1. Abstract

    We present the latest and most precise characterization of the architecture for the ancient (≈11 Gyr) Kepler-444 system, which is composed of a K0 primary star (Kepler-444 A) hosting five transiting planets and a tight M-type spectroscopic binary (Kepler-444 BC) with an A–BC projected separation of 66 au. We have measured the system’s relative astrometry using the adaptive optics imaging from Keck/NIRC2 and Kepler-444 A’s radial velocities from the Hobby-Eberly Telescope and reanalyzed relative radial velocities between BC and A from Keck/HIRES. We also include the Hipparcos-Gaia astrometric acceleration and all published astrometry and radial velocities in an updated orbit analysis of BC’s barycenter. These data greatly extend the time baseline of the monitoring and lead to significant updates to BC’s barycentric orbit compared to previous work, including a larger semimajor axis (a=52.22.7+3.3au), a smaller eccentricity (e= 0.55 ± 0.05), and a more precise inclination (i=85404+03). We have also derived the first dynamical masses of B and C components. Our results suggest that Kepler-444 A’s protoplanetary disk was likely truncated by BC to a radius of ≈8 au, which resolves the previously noticed tension between Kepler-444 A’s disk mass and planet masses. Kepler-444more »BC’s barycentric orbit is likely aligned with those of A’s five planets, which might be primordial or a consequence of dynamical evolution. The Kepler-444 system demonstrates that compact multiplanet systems residing in hierarchical stellar triples can form at early epochs of the universe and survive their secular evolution throughout cosmic time.

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  2. Abstract

    We present the discovery of TOI-5205b, a transiting Jovian planet orbiting a solar metallicity M4V star, which was discovered using Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite photometry and then confirmed using a combination of precise radial velocities, ground-based photometry, spectra, and speckle imaging. TOI-5205b has one of the highest mass ratios for M-dwarf planets, with a mass ratio of almost 0.3%, as it orbits a host star that is just 0.392 ± 0.015M. Its planetary radius is 1.03 ± 0.03RJ, while the mass is 1.08 ± 0.06MJ. Additionally, the large size of the planet orbiting a small star results in a transit depth of ∼7%, making it one of the deepest transits of a confirmed exoplanet orbiting a main-sequence star. The large transit depth makes TOI-5205b a compelling target to probe its atmospheric properties, as a means of tracing the potential formation pathways. While there have been radial-velocity-only discoveries of giant planets around mid-M dwarfs, this is the first transiting Jupiter with a mass measurement discovered around such a low-mass host star. The high mass of TOI-5205b stretches conventional theories of planet formation and disk scaling relations that cannot easily recreate the conditions required to form such planets.

  3. Abstract We present the discovery of a new Jovian-sized planet, TOI-3757 b, the lowest-density transiting planet known to orbit an M dwarf (M0V). This planet was discovered around a solar-metallicity M dwarf, using Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite photometry and confirmed with precise radial velocities from the Habitable-zone Planet Finder (HPF) and NEID. With a planetary radius of 12.0 − 0.5 + 0.4 R ⊕ and mass of 85.3 − 8.7 + 8.8 M ⊕ , not only does this object add to the small sample of gas giants (∼10) around M dwarfs, but also its low density ( ρ = 0.27 − 0.04 + 0.05 g cm −3 ) provides an opportunity to test theories of planet formation. We present two hypotheses to explain its low density; first, we posit that the low metallicity of its stellar host (∼0.3 dex lower than the median metallicity of M dwarfs hosting gas giants) could have played a role in the delayed formation of a solid core massive enough to initiate runaway accretion. Second, using the eccentricity estimate of 0.14 ± 0.06, we determine it is also plausible for tidal heating to at least partially be responsible for inflating the radius of TOI-3757bmore »b. The low density and large scale height of TOI-3757 b makes it an excellent target for transmission spectroscopy studies of atmospheric escape and composition (transmission spectroscopy measurement of ∼ 190). We use HPF to perform transmission spectroscopy of TOI-3757 b using the helium 10830 Å line. Doing this, we place an upper limit of 6.9% (with 90% confidence) on the maximum depth of the absorption from the metastable transition of He at ∼10830 Å, which can help constraint the atmospheric mass-loss rate in this energy-limited regime.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 5, 2023
  4. Abstract We report the discovery of an M = 67 ± 2 M J brown dwarf transiting the early M dwarf TOI-2119 on an eccentric orbit ( e = 0.3362 ± 0.0005) at an orbital period of 7.200861 ± 0.000005 days. We confirm the brown dwarf nature of the transiting companion using a combination of ground-based and space-based photometry and high-precision velocimetry from the Habitable-zone Planet Finder. Detection of the secondary eclipse with TESS photometry enables a precise determination of the eccentricity and reveals the brown dwarf has a brightness temperature of 2100 ± 80 K, a value which is consistent with an early L dwarf. TOI-2119 is one of the most eccentric known brown dwarfs with P < 10 days, possibly due to the long circularization timescales for an object orbiting an M dwarf. We assess the prospects for determining the obliquity of the host star to probe formation scenarios and the possibility of additional companions in the system using Gaia EDR3 and our radial velocities.
  5. Abstract

    We explore the fascinating eclipses and dynamics of the compact hierarchical triple-star system KOI-126 (KIC 5897826). This system is composed of a pair of M-dwarf stars (KOI-126 B and C) in a 1.74 day orbit that revolve around an F star (KOI-126 A) every 34 days. Complex eclipse shapes are created as the M stars transit the F star, due to two effects: (1) the duration of the eclipse is a significant fraction of the M-star orbital period, so the prograde or retrograde motion of the M stars in their orbit lead to unusually short or long duration eclipses; (2) due to 3-body dynamics, the M-star orbit precesses with an astonishingly quick timescale of 1.74 yr for the periastron (apsidal) precession, and 2.73 yr for the inclination and nodal angle precession. Using the full Kepler data set, supplemented with ground-based photometry, plus 29 radial velocity measurements that span 6 yr, our photodynamical modeling yields masses ofMA= 1.2713 ± 0.0047M(0.37%),MB= 0.23529 ± 0.00062M(0.26%), andMC= 0.20739 ± 0.00055M(0.27%) and radii ofRA= 1.9984 ± 0.0027R(0.14%),RB= 0.25504 ± 0.00076R(0.3%), andRC= 0.23196 ± 0.00069R(0.3%). We also estimate the apsidal motion constant of the M dwarfs, a parameter that characterizes the internal mass distribution. Althoughmore »it is not particularly precise, we measure a mean apsidal motion constant,k2¯, of0.0460.028+0.046, which is approximately 2σlower than the theoretical model prediction of 0.150. We explore possible causes for this discrepancy.

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  6. Abstract We confirm the planetary nature of two gas giants discovered by the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite to transit M dwarfs. TOI-3714 ( V = 15.24, J = 11.74) is an M2 dwarf hosting a hot Jupiter ( M p = 0.70 ± 0.03 M J and R p = 1.01 ± 0.03 R J ) on an orbital period of 2.154849 ± 0.000001 days with a resolved white dwarf companion. TOI-3629 ( V = 14.63, J = 11.42) is an M1 dwarf hosting a hot Jupiter ( M p = 0.26 ± 0.02 M J and R p =0.74 ± 0.02 R J ) on an orbital period of 3.936551 − 0.000006 + 0.000005 days. We characterize each transiting companion using a combination of ground-based and space-based photometry, speckle imaging, and high-precision velocimetry from the Habitable-zone Planet Finder and the NEID spectrographs. With the discovery of these two systems, there are now nine M dwarfs known to host transiting hot Jupiters. Among this population, TOI-3714 b ( T eq = 750 ± 20 K and TSM = 98 ± 7) and TOI-3629 b ( T eq = 690 ± 20 K and TSM = 80 ± 9) are warmmore »gas giants amenable to additional characterization with transmission spectroscopy to probe atmospheric chemistry and, for TOI-3714, obliquity measurements to probe formation scenarios.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 14, 2023
  7. Abstract We validate the planetary nature of an ultra-short-period planet orbiting the M dwarf KOI-4777. We use a combination of space-based photometry from Kepler, high-precision, near-infrared Doppler spectroscopy from the Habitable-zone Planet Finder, and adaptive optics imaging to characterize this system. KOI-4777.01 is a Mars-sized exoplanet ( R p = 0.51 ± 0.03 R ⊕ ) orbiting the host star every 0.412 days (∼9.9 hr). This is the smallest validated ultra-short period planet known and we see no evidence for additional massive companions using our HPF RVs. We constrain the upper 3 σ mass to M p < 0.34 M ⊕ by assuming the planet is less dense than iron. Obtaining a mass measurement for KOI-4777.01 is beyond current instrumental capabilities.
  8. Abstract Barnard’s star is among the most studied stars given its proximity to the Sun. It is often considered the radial velocity (RV) standard for fully convective stars due to its RV stability and equatorial decl. Recently, an M sin i = 3.3 M ⊕ super-Earth planet candidate with a 233 day orbital period was announced by Ribas et al. New observations from the near-infrared Habitable-zone Planet Finder (HPF) Doppler spectrometer do not show this planetary signal. We ran a suite of experiments on both the original data and a combined original + HPF data set. These experiments include model comparisons, periodogram analyses, and sampling sensitivity, all of which show the signal at the proposed period of 233 days is transitory in nature. The power in the signal is largely contained within 211 RVs that were taken within a 1000 day span of observing. Our preferred model of the system is one that features stellar activity without a planet. We propose that the candidate planetary signal is an alias of the 145 day rotation period. This result highlights the challenge of analyzing long-term, quasi-periodic activity signals over multiyear and multi-instrument observing campaigns.
  9. Abstract

    We detail the follow-up and characterization of a transiting exo-Venus identified by TESS, GJ 3929b (TOI-2013b), and its nontransiting companion planet, GJ 3929c (TOI-2013c). GJ 3929b is an Earth-sized exoplanet in its star’s Venus zone (Pb= 2.616272 ± 0.000005 days; Sb=17.30.7+0.8S) orbiting a nearby M dwarf. GJ 3929c is most likely a nontransiting sub-Neptune. Using the new, ultraprecise NEID spectrometer on the WIYN 3.5 m Telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory, we are able to modify the mass constraints of planet b reported in previous works and consequently improve the significance of the mass measurement to almost 4σconfidence (Mb= 1.75 ± 0.45M). We further adjust the orbital period of planet c from its alias at 14.30 ± 0.03 days to the likely true period of 15.04 ± 0.03 days, and we adjust its minimum mass tomsini= 5.71 ± 0.92M. Using the diffuser-assisted ARCTIC imager on the ARC 3.5 m telescope at Apache Point Observatory, in addition to publicly available TESS and LCOGT photometry, we are able to constrain the radius of planet b toRp= 1.09 ± 0.04R. GJ 3929b is a top candidate for transmission spectroscopy in its size regime (TSM = 14more »± 4), and future atmospheric studies of GJ 3929b stand to shed light on the nature of small planets orbiting M dwarfs.

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