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Title: BULK COMPOSITION OF GJ 1214b AND OTHER SUB-NEPTUNE EXOPLANETS

GJ 1214b stands out among the detected low-mass exoplanets, because it is, so far, the only one amenable to transmission spectroscopy. Up to date there is no consensus about the composition of its envelope although most studies suggest a high molecular weight atmosphere. In particular, it is unclear if hydrogen and helium are present or if the atmosphere is water dominated. Here, we present results on the composition of the envelope obtained by using an internal structure and evolutionary model to fit the mass and radius data. By examining all possible mixtures of water and H/He, with the corresponding opacities, we find that the bulk amount of H/He of GJ 1214b is at most 7% by mass. In general, we find the radius of warm sub-Neptunes to be most sensitive to the amount of H/He. We note that all (Kepler-11b,c,d,f, Kepler-18b, Kepler-20b, 55Cnc-e, Kepler-36c, and Kepler-68b) but two (Kepler-11e and Kepler-30b) of the discovered low-mass planets so far have less than 10% H/He. In fact, Kepler-11e and Kepler-30b have 10%-18% and 5%-15% bulk H/He. Conversely, little can be determined about the H{sub 2}O or rocky content of sub-Neptune planets. We find that although a 100% water composition fits the datamore » for GJ 1214b, based on formation constraints the presence of heavier refractory material on this planet is expected, and hence, so is a component lighter than water required. The same is true for Kepler-11f. A robust determination by transmission spectroscopy of the composition of the upper atmosphere of GJ 1214b will help determine the extent of compositional segregation between the atmosphere and the envelope.« less
Authors:
 [1] ; ;  [2] ;  [3]
  1. Earth, Atmosphere and Planetary Sciences Department, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02139 (United States)
  2. Observatoire de la Cote d'Azur, Universite de Nice-Sophie Antipolis, CNRS UMR 7293, BP 4229, F-06300 Nice Cedex 4 (France)
  3. Nasa Ames Research Center, MS 245-3, P.O. Box 1, Moffett Field, CA 94035-0001 (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22133833
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Astrophysical Journal; Journal Volume: 775; Journal Issue: 1; Other Information: Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
74 ATOMIC AND MOLECULAR PHYSICS; 79 ASTROPHYSICS, COSMOLOGY AND ASTRONOMY; HELIUM; HYDROGEN; LIMITING VALUES; MOLECULAR WEIGHT; NEPTUNE PLANET; OPACITY; PLANETARY ATMOSPHERES; REFRACTORIES; SPECTROSCOPY; TRANSMISSION; WATER