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  1. Theories of planet formation predict that low-mass stars should rarely host exoplanets with masses exceeding that of Neptune. We used radial velocity observations to detect a Neptune-mass exoplanet orbiting LHS 3154, a star that is nine times less massive than the Sun. The exoplanet’s orbital period is 3.7 days, and its minimum mass is 13.2 Earth masses. We used simulations to show that the high planet-to-star mass ratio (>3.5 × 10−4) is not an expected outcome of either the core accretion or gravitational instability theories of planet formation. In the core-accretion simulations, we show that close-in Neptune-mass planets are only formed if the dust mass of the protoplanetary disk is an order of magnitude greater than typically observed around very low-mass stars.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2024
  2. Abstract

    We confirm the planetary nature of TOI-5344 b as a transiting giant exoplanet around an M0-dwarf star. TOI-5344 b was discovered with the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite photometry and confirmed with ground-based photometry (the Red Buttes Observatory 0.6 m telescope), radial velocity (the Habitable-zone Planet Finder), and speckle imaging (the NN-Explore Exoplanet Stellar Speckle Imager). TOI-5344 b is a Saturn-like giant planet (ρ= 0.800.15+0.17g cm−3) with a planetary radius of 9.7 ± 0.5R(0.87 ± 0.04RJup) and a planetary mass of13518+17M(0.420.06+0.05MJup). It has an orbital period of3.7926220.000010+0.000010days and an orbital eccentricity of0.060.04+0.07. We measure a high metallicity for TOI-5344 of [Fe/H] = 0.48 ± 0.12, where the high metallicity is consistent with expectations from formation through core accretion. We compare the metallicity of the M-dwarf hosts of giant exoplanets to that of M-dwarf hosts of nongiants (≲8R). While the two populations appear to show different metallicity distributions, quantitative tests are prohibited by various sample caveats.

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  3. A growing avenue for determining the prevalence of life beyond Earth is to search for “technosignatures” from extraterrestrial intelligences/agents. Technosignatures require significant energy to be visible across interstellar space and thus intentional signals might be concentrated in frequency, in time, or in space, to be found in mutually obvious places. Therefore, it could be advantageous to search for technosignatures in parts of parameter space that are mutually derivable to an observer on Earth and a distant transmitter. In this work, we used theL-band (1.1–1.9 GHz) receiver on the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope to perform the first technosignature search presynchronized with exoplanet transits, covering 12 Kepler systems. We used the Breakthrough Listen turboSETI pipeline to flag narrowband hits (∼3 Hz) using a maximum drift rate of ±614.4 Hz s−1and a signal-to-noise threshold of 5—the pipeline returned ∼3.4 × 105apparently-localized features. Visual inspection by a team of citizen scientists ruled out 99.6% of them. Further analysis found two signals of interest that warrant follow up, but no technosignatures. If the signals of interest are not redetected in future work, it will imply that the 12 targets in the search are not producing transit-aligned signals from 1.1 to 1.9 GHz with transmitter powers >60 times that of the former Arecibo radar. This search debuts a range of innovative technosignature techniques: citizen science vetting of potential signals of interest, a sensitivity-aware search out to extremely high drift rates, a more flexible method of analyzing on-off cadences, and an extremely low signal-to-noise threshold.

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  4. Abstract TOI-1899 b is a rare exoplanet, a temperate warm Jupiter orbiting an M dwarf, first discovered by Cañas et al. (2020) from a TESS single-transit event. Using new radial velocities (RVs) from the precision RV spectrographs HPF and NEID, along with additional TESS photometry and ground-based transit follow-up, we are able to derive a much more precise orbital period of P = 29.090312 − 0.000035 + 0.000036 days, along with a radius of R p = 0.99 ± 0.03 R J . We have also improved the constraints on planet mass, M p = 0.67 ± 0.04 M J , and eccentricity, which is consistent with a circular orbit at 2 σ ( e = 0.044 − 0.027 + 0.029 ). TOI-1899 b occupies a unique region of parameter space as the coolest known ( T eq ≈ 380 K) Jovian-sized transiting planet around an M dwarf; we show that it has great potential to provide clues regarding the formation and migration mechanisms of these rare gas giants through transmission spectroscopy with JWST, as well as studies of tidal evolution. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 3, 2024
  5. Abstract We confirm the planetary nature of two gas giants discovered by TESS to transit M dwarfs with stellar companions at wide separations. TOI-3984 A ( J = 11.93) is an M4 dwarf hosting a short-period (4.353326 ± 0.000005 days) gas giant ( M p = 0.14 ± 0.03 M J and R p = 0.71 ± 0.02 R J ) with a wide-separation white dwarf companion. TOI-5293 A ( J = 12.47) is an M3 dwarf hosting a short-period (2.930289 ± 0.000004 days) gas giant ( M p = 0.54 ± 0.07 M J and R p = 1.06 ± 0.04 R J ) with a wide-separation M dwarf companion. We characterize both systems using a combination of ground- and space-based photometry, speckle imaging, and high-precision radial velocities from the Habitable-zone Planet Finder and NEID spectrographs. TOI-3984 A b ( T eq = 563 ± 15 K and TSM = 138 − 27 + 29 ) and TOI-5293 A b ( T eq = 675 − 30 + 42 K and TSM = 92 ± 14) are two of the coolest gas giants among the population of hot Jupiter–sized gas planets orbiting M dwarfs and are favorable targets for atmospheric characterization of temperate gas giants and 3D obliquity measurements to probe system architecture and migration scenarios. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 27, 2024
  6. Abstract

    Using both ground-based transit photometry and high-precision radial velocity spectroscopy, we confirm the planetary nature of TOI-3785 b. This transiting Neptune orbits an M2-Dwarf star with a period of ∼4.67 days, a planetary radius of 5.14 ± 0.16R, a mass of14.953.92+4.10M, and a density ofρ=0.610.17+0.18g cm−3. TOI-3785 b belongs to a rare population of Neptunes (4R<Rp< 7R) orbiting cooler, smaller M-dwarf host stars, of which only ∼10 have been confirmed. By increasing the number of confirmed planets, TOI-3785 b offers an opportunity to compare similar planets across varying planetary and stellar parameter spaces. Moreover, with a high-transmission spectroscopy metric of ∼150 combined with a relatively cool equilibrium temperature ofTeq= 582 ± 16 K and an inactive host star, TOI-3785 b is one of the more promising low-density M-dwarf Neptune targets for atmospheric follow up. Future investigation into atmospheric mass-loss rates of TOI-3785 b may yield new insights into the atmospheric evolution of these low-mass gas planets around M dwarfs.

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  7. Abstract

    The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) mission detected a companion orbiting TIC 71268730, categorized it as a planet candidate, and designated the system TOI-5375. Our follow-up analysis using radial-velocity data from the Habitable-zone Planet Finder, photometric data from Red Buttes Observatory, and speckle imaging with NN-EXPLORE Exoplanet Stellar Speckle Imager determined that the companion is a very low mass star near the hydrogen-burning mass limit with a mass of 0.080 ± 0.002M(83.81 ± 2.10MJ), a radius of0.11140.0050+0.0048R(1.08410.04870.0467RJ), and brightness temperature of 2600 ± 70 K. This object orbits with a period of 1.721553 ± 0.000001 days around an early M dwarf star (0.62 ± 0.016M). TESS photometry shows regular variations in the host star’s TESS light curve, which we interpreted as an activity-induced variation of ∼2%, and used this variability to measure the host star’s stellar rotation period of1.97160.0083+0.0080days. The TOI-5375 system provides tight constraints on stellar models of low-mass stars at the hydrogen-burning limit and adds to the population in this important region.

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  8. Abstract

    We present an analysis of Sun-as-a-star observations from four different high-resolution, stabilized spectrographs—HARPS, HARPS-N, EXPRES, and NEID. With simultaneous observations of the Sun from four different instruments, we are able to gain insight into the radial velocity precision and accuracy delivered by each of these instruments and isolate instrumental systematics that differ from true astrophysical signals. With solar observations, we can completely characterize the expected Doppler shift contributed by orbiting Solar System bodies and remove them. This results in a data set with measured velocity variations that purely trace flows on the solar surface. Direct comparisons of the radial velocities measured by each instrument show remarkable agreement with residual intraday scatter of only 15–30 cm s−1. This shows that current ultra-stabilized instruments have broken through to a new level of measurement precision that reveals stellar variability with high fidelity and detail. We end by discussing how radial velocities from different instruments can be combined to provide powerful leverage for testing techniques to mitigate stellar signals.

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  9. Abstract

    We perform an in-depth analysis of the recently validated TOI-3884 system, an M4-dwarf star with a transiting super-Neptune. Using high-precision light curves obtained with the 3.5 m Apache Point Observatory and radial velocity observations with the Habitable-zone Planet Finder, we derive a planetary mass of32.67.4+7.3Mand radius of 6.4 ± 0.2R. We detect a distinct starspot crossing event occurring just after ingress and spanning half the transit for every transit. We determine this spot feature to be wavelength dependent with the amplitude and duration evolving slightly over time. Best-fit starspot models show that TOI-3884b possesses a misaligned (λ= 75° ± 10°) orbit that crosses a giant pole spot. This system presents a rare opportunity for studies into the nature of both a misaligned super-Neptune and spot evolution on an active mid-M dwarf.

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  10. 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. 
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