The CARMENES Search for Exoplanets around M Dwarfs: A Low-mass Planet in the Temperate Zone of the Nearby K2-18

Paula Sarkis, Thomas Henning, Martin Kürster, Trifon Trifonov, Mathias Zechmeister, Lev Tal-Or, Guillem Anglada-Escudé, Artie P. Hatzes, Marina Lafarga, Stefan Dreizler, Ignasi Ribas, José A. Caballero, Ansgar Reiners, Matthias Mallonn, Juan C. Morales, Adrian Kaminski, Jesús Aceituno, Pedro J. Amado, Victor J. S. Béjar, Hans-Jürgen Hagen, Sandra Jeffers, Andreas Quirrenbach, Ralf Launhardt, Christopher Marvin, David Montes. 2018. The CARMENES Search for Exoplanets around M Dwarfs: A Low-mass Planet in the Temperate Zone of the Nearby K2-18. Astronomical Journal 155, 6, DOI: 10.3847/1538-3881/aac108

K2-18 is a nearby M2.5 dwarf, located at 34 pc and hosting a transiting planet that was first discovered by the K2 mission and later confirmed with Spitzer Space Telescope observations. With a radius of similar to 2 R-circle plus and an orbital period of similar to 33 days, the planet lies in the temperate zone of its host star and receives stellar irradiation similar to that of Earth. Here we perform radial velocity follow-up observations with the visual channel of CARMENES with the goal of determining the mass and density of the planet. We measure a planetary semi-amplitude of K-b similar to 3.5 m s(-1). and a mass of M-b similar to 9 M-circle plus, yielding a bulk density around rho(b) similar to 4 g cm(-3). This indicates a low-mass planet with a composition consistent with a solid core and a volatile-rich envelope. A signal at 9 days was recently reported using radial velocity measurements taken with the HARPS spectrograph. This was interpreted as being due to a second planet. We see a weaker, time-and wavelength-dependent signal in the CARMENES data set and thus favor stellar activity for its origin. K2-18 b joins the growing group of low-mass planets detected in the temperate zone of M dwarfs. The brightness of the host star in the near-infrared makes the system a good target for detailed atmospheric studies with the James Webb Space Telescope.

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