NASA's Kepler Mission uses transit photometry to determine the frequency of Earth-size planets in or near the habitable zone of Sun-like stars. The mission reached a milestone toward meeting that goal: the discovery of its first rocky planet, Kepler-10b. Two distinct sets of transit events were detected: (1) a 152 4 ppm dimming lasting 1.811 0.024 hr with ephemeris T[BJD] =2454964.57375 +0.00060 -0.00082 + N*0.837495+0.000004 -0.000005 days and (2) a 376 9ppm dimming lasting 6.86 0.07 hr with ephemeris T[BJD] =2454971.6761+0.0020 -0.0023 + N*45.29485+0.00065 -0.00076 days. Statistical tests on the photometric and pixel flux time series established the viability of the planet candidates triggering ground-based follow-up observations. Forty precision Doppler measurements were used to confirm that the short-period transit event is due to a planetary companion. The parent star is bright enough for asteroseismic analysis. Photometry was collected at 1 minute cadence for >4 months from which we detected 19 distinct pulsation frequencies. Modeling the frequencies resulted in precise knowledge of the fundamental stellar properties. Kepler-10 is a relatively old (11.9 4.5Gyr) but otherwise Sun-like main-sequence star with T eff = 5627 44K, M = 0.895 0.060 M, and R = 1.056 0.021 R. Physical models simultaneously fit to the transit light curves and the precision Doppler measurements yielded tight constraints on the properties of Kepler-10b that speak to its rocky composition: M P = 4.56+1.17 -1.29 M ⊕, R P = 1.416+0.033 -0.036 R ⊕, and ρP = 8.8+2.1 -2.9gcm-3. Kepler-10b is the smallest transiting exoplanet discovered to date.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science