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Mass-Radius Relationships for Very Low Mass Gaseous Planets

Batygin, Konstantin and Stevenson, David J. (2013) Mass-Radius Relationships for Very Low Mass Gaseous Planets. Astrophysical Journal Letters, 769 (1). Art. No. L9. ISSN 2041-8205.

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Recently, the Kepler spacecraft has detected a sizable aggregate of objects, characterized by giant-planet-like radii and modest levels of stellar irradiation. With the exception of a handful of objects, the physical nature, and specifically the average densities, of these bodies remain unknown. Here, we propose that the detected giant planet radii may partially belong to planets somewhat less massive than Uranus and Neptune. Accordingly, in this work, we seek to identify a physically sound upper limit to planetary radii at low masses and moderate equilibrium temperatures. As a guiding example, we analyze the interior structure of the Neptune-mass planet Kepler-30d and show that it is acutely deficient in heavy elements, especially compared with its solar system counterparts. Subsequently, we perform numerical simulations of planetary thermal evolution and in agreement with previous studies, show that generally, 10-20 M_⊕, multi-billion year old planets, composed of high density cores and extended H/He envelopes can have radii that firmly reside in the giant planet range. We subject our results to stability criteria based on extreme ultraviolet radiation, as well as Roche-lobe overflow driven mass-loss and construct mass-radius relationships for the considered objects. We conclude by discussing observational avenues that may be used to confirm or repudiate the existence of putative low mass, gas-dominated planets.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription Paper
Batygin, Konstantin0000-0002-7094-7908
Stevenson, David J.0000-0001-9432-7159
Additional Information:© 2013 The American Astronomical Society. Received 2013 January 15; accepted 2013 April 17; published 2013 May 3. We thank Tristan Guillot, Geoff Blake, Ruth Murray-Clay, Adam Burrows, and David Kipping for numerous useful conversations. We are grateful to the referee for a careful and insightful report that has greatly increased the quality of the manuscript. K.B. acknowledges the generous support from the ITC Prize Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Institute for Theory and Computation, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for AstrophysicsUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:planets and satellites: interiors; planets and satellites: physical evolution
Issue or Number:1
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20130709-082050499
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Official Citation:Mass-Radius Relationships for Very Low Mass Gaseous Planets Konstantin Batygin and David J. Stevenson 2013 ApJ 769 L9
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:39258
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:10 Jul 2013 17:41
Last Modified:09 Mar 2020 13:18

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