Exoplanet mass estimation for a sample of targets for the Ariel mission

Barnes, J. R. and Haswell, C. A. (2021). Exoplanet mass estimation for a sample of targets for the Ariel mission. Experimental Astronomy (Early Access).

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10686-021-09758-0


Ariel’s ambitious goal to survey a quarter of known exoplanets will transform our knowledge of planetary atmospheres. Masses measured directly with the radial velocity technique are essential for well determined planetary bulk properties. Radial velocity masses will provide important checks of masses derived from atmospheric fits or alternatively can be treated as a fixed input parameter to reduce possible degeneracies in atmospheric retrievals. We quantify the impact of stellar activity on planet mass recovery for the Ariel mission sample using Sun-like spot models scaled for active stars combined with other noise sources. Planets with necessarily well-determined ephemerides will be selected for characterisation with Ariel. With this prior requirement, we simulate the derived planet mass precision as a function of the number of observations for a prospective sample of Ariel targets. We find that quadrature sampling can significantly reduce the time commitment required for follow-up RVs, and is most effective when the planetary RV signature is larger than the RV noise. For a typical radial velocity instrument operating on a 4 m class telescope and achieving 1 m s−1 precision, between ~17% and ~ 37% of the time commitment is spent on the 7% of planets with mass Mp < 10 M. In many low activity cases, the time required is limited by asteroseismic and photon noise. For low mass or faint systems, we can recover masses with the same precision up to ~3 times more quickly with an instrumental precision of ~10 cm s−1.

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