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ASTR 3000 — Exoplanet Properties, Part II

1 Introduction
Last time we started to find out about the planet orbiting star HD4308, a K0 star with an apparent magnitude
of 6.54. It is located in the constellation Tucana at a distance of 21.9 pc. Observations taken from the European
Southern Observatory’s 3.6 meter telescope at La Sillia Observatory with the HARPS eschelle spectrograph over
between September 7, 2003 and July 28, 2005 indicate that this star has a slight wobble, most likely due to a
planetary companion. The radial velocity of the star for each observation is shown in figure 1. These data indicate
that the orbital period of the star-planet system is 15.56 days.

Figure 1: Intermediate season of HARPS radial velocities for HD4308. The best fit of the data gives an orbital
period of 15.56 days for the planet (from Udry et al. 2006. “The HARPS search for southern extra-solar planets
V.” Astronomy & Astrophysics 447: 361–367)
ASTR 3000 — Exoplanet II 2

2 Information from Part I


In the first part of the exercise we estimated the distance between the planet and the star to be 0.115 A.U. (1.72 ×
107 km) which is too close to be in the habitable zone of a K0 star. We also found from momentum conservation
that the planet’s mass is at least 4.66 × 10−5 M , but the actual mass depends on the inclination. We will assume
that the inclination is 0 and use 4.66 × 10−5 M as the mass of the planet for the remainder of the exercise.

3 Surface Properties
Now that you have the mass of your planet, you can learn a lot about it by comparing it to planets in our Solar
System (see the appendix for properties of solar system planets). The first thing we will do is check to see if it is
terrestrial or jovian. A terrestrial planet could be much like Earth, while a jovian planet is composed primarily
oh hydrogen and helium. We will find this by comparing masses.

1. Convert the mass of the planet to kilograms using a conversion in the appendix.

2. Check the properties of solar system planets. Which planet is most like this planet?

3. Is this planet more likely to be terrestrial or jovian?

4. What is the mass of this planet in Earth masses?


ASTR 3000 — Exoplanet II 3

4 Size
Finally we can try to figure out how big the planet is. The best way to measure the size of something is to observe
it directly, but we cannot do that in this case. We will make assumptions about the density in order to rind the
size of the planet. We will assume a terrestrial planet has an average density of 5,000 kg m−3 , while a jovian planet
has an average density of 1,000 kg m−3 .

1. Use one of the equations in the appendix to find the volume of the planet around HD4308 using the mass
of the planet in kilograms and an assumed density.

2. Assuming the planet is a perfect sphere, what is the radius of this planet in meters?

5 Escape Velocity
One way to estimate the surface gravity is to calculate the escape velocity on the surface of a planet. The escape
velocity is the speed you would have to achieve in order to escape from the gravitational influence of the planet.
The higher the escape velocity, the higher the surface gravity and the more energy it takes to overcome it. Escape
velocity depends on both the mass and radius of a planet. The escape velocity (vesc ) in meters per second is given
by the expression È
2GM
vesc = , (1)
r
where M is the mass of the planet in kilograms, r is the radius of the planet in meters, and G is the constant
6.7 × 10−11 m3 kg−1 s−2 .
ASTR 3000 — Exoplanet II 4

1. Find the escape velocity in meters per second using equation 1.

2. Convert the escape velocity to kilometers per second.

3. How does it compare to other planets in the solar system?

6 Summary
Do you think this planet is likely to support life? In the space below indicate why this planet may or may not
support life and if this planet would be a good candidate planet for a robotic exploration mission.
ASTR 3000 — Exoplanet II 5

A Main sequence star properties


Class Radius Mass Luminosity Temperature Example
R/R M /M L/L K
O2 16 158 2,000,000 54,000 Sanduleak -71 51
O5 14 58 800,000 46,000 Sanduleak -66 41
B0 5.7 16 16,000 29,000 Phi1 Orionis
B5 3.7 5.4 750 15,200 Pi Andromedae A
A0 2.3 2.6 63 9,600 Vega
A5 1.8 1.9 24 8,700 Beta Pictoris
F0 1.5 1.6 9.0 7,200 Gamma Virginis
F5 1.2 1.35 4.0 6,400 Eta Arietis
G0 1.05 1.08 1.45 6,000 Beta Comae Berenices
G2 1.0 1.0 1.0 5,700 Sun
G5 0.98 0.95 0.70 5,500 Alpha Mensae
K0 0.89 0.83 0.36 5,150 70 Ophiuchi A
K5 0.75 0.62 0.18 4,450 61 Cygni A
M0 0.64 0.47 0.075 3,850 Gliese 185
M5 0.36 0.25 0.013 3,200 EZ Aquarii A
M8 0.15 0.10 0.0008 2,500 Van Biesbroeck’s star

Properties of Main sequence stars (from Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_sequence.

B Solar System Data


Planet Radius Mass Mean Density Escape Velocity
km kg kg m−3 km s−1
Mercury 2,440 3.30 × 1023 5,430 4.2
Venus 6,052 4.87 × 1024 5,240 10.4
Earth 6,378 5.97 × 1024 5,520 11.2
Mars 3,394 6.42 × 1023 3,930 5.0
Jupiter 71,492 1.90 × 1027 1,330 60
Saturn 60,268 5.68 × 1026 690 36
Uranus 25,559 8.68 × 1025 1,270 21
Neptune 24,766 1.02 × 1026 1,640 24

Taken from Eric Chaisson & Steve McMillan. Astronomy Today Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall,
2005.

C Conversion Factors
• 1 year = 365.25 days = 3.16 × 107 seconds.

• 1 AU = 1.496 × 108 km.

• 1 M = 1.99 × 1030 kg = 1,050 M Jupiter = 333,000 MEarth .

• 1 M Jupiter = 1.90 × 1027 kg.


ASTR 3000 — Exoplanet II 6

• 1 MEarth = 5.98 × 1024 kg.

• 1 km = 1000 m.

D Other Equations
• The mass M of an object with volume V and density ρ is given by the expression

M = ρV . (2)

• The volume V of a sphere of radius r is


4
V = πr 3 . (3)
3