The Oblique Orbit of WASP-107b from K2 Photometry

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Abstract

Observations of nine transits of WASP-107 during the K2 mission reveal three separate occasions when the planet crossed in front of a starspot. The data confirm the stellar rotation period to be 17 days - approximately three times the planet's orbital period - and suggest that large spots persist for at least one full rotation. If the star had a low obliquity, at least two additional spot crossings should have been observed. They were not observed, giving evidence for a high obliquity. We use a simple geometric model to show that the obliquity is likely in the range 40°-140°, i.e., both spin-orbit alignment and anti-alignment can be ruled out. WASP-107 thereby joins the small collection of relatively low-mass stars with a high obliquity. Most such stars have been observed to have low obliquities; all of the exceptions, including WASP-107, involve planets with relatively wide orbits ("warm Jupiters," with amin/R∗ ≳ 8). This demonstrates a connection between stellar obliquity and planet properties, in contradiction to some theories for obliquity excitation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number205
JournalAstronomical Journal
Volume153
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

Keywords

  • planetary systems
  • planets and satellites: individual (WASP-107)
  • stars: individual (WASP-107)

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