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55 Cancri e
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Title: Search for water in a super-Earth atmosphere: High-resolution optical spectroscopy of 55 Cancri e
Author: Lisa J. Esteves, Ernst J. W. De Mooij, Ray Jayawardhana, Chris Watson, Remco de Kok

We present the analysis of high-resolution optical spectra of four transits of 55Cnc e, a low-density, super-Earth that orbits a nearby Sun-like star in under 18 hours. The inferred bulk density of the planet implies a substantial envelope, which, according to mass-radius relationships, could be either a low-mass extended or a high-mass compact atmosphere. Our observations investigate the latter scenario, with water as the dominant species. We take advantage of the Doppler cross-correlation technique, high-spectral resolution and the large wavelength coverage of our observations to search for the signature of thousands of optical water absorption lines. Using our observations with HDS on the Subaru telescope and ESPaDOnS on the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope, we are able to place a 3-sigma lower limit of 10 g/mol on the mean-molecular weight of 55Cnc e's water-rich (volume mixing ratio >10%), optically-thin atmosphere, which corresponds to an atmospheric scale-height of ~80 km. Our study marks the first high-spectral resolution search for water in a super-Earth atmosphere and demonstrates that it is possible to recover known water-vapour absorption signals, in a nearby super-Earth atmosphere, using high-resolution transit spectroscopy with current ground-based instruments.

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RE: 55 Cancri
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Detection of an atmosphere around the super-Earth 55 Cancri e
http://arxiv.org/abs/1511.08901

Before the discovery of extrasolar planets, super-Earths belonged in the realm of science fiction. However, they appear to constitute the most common planetary type in our galaxy. We know very little about these planets beyond very basic planetary and orbital parameters. The WFC3 camera onboard the HST has enabled the spectroscopic observations of the atmospheres of two super-Earths, GJ1214b and HD97658b, with unprecedented precision; but the published spectra of these two objects are featureless, suggesting an atmosphere covered by thick clouds or made of molecular species much heavier than hydrogen. We report here the analysis of the observations performed with the WFC3 of a third, very hot, super-Earth, 55 Cancri e. Given the brightness of 55 Cancri, the observations were obtained in scanning mode, adopting a very long scanning length and a very high scanning speed. These observational parameters are coupled with the geometrical distortions of the instrument, so we have developed a specialized pipeline to de-correlate the signal from the systematics. We measure the transit depth per wavelength channel with an average relative uncertainty of 21 ppm and find a spectral modulation of about 100 ppm. These results suggest that 55 Cancri e is surrounded by an atmosphere, which is hydrogen-rich. Our fully Bayesian spectral retrieval code, TauREx, has identified HCN to be one of the possible trace gases in the atmosphere. While additional observations in a broader wavelength range will be needed to confirm the HCN detection, we discuss here the implications of such result. We adopt a chemical scheme developed with combustion specialists and validated by a wide range of experiments. Our chemical model indicates that a relatively high mixing ratio of HCN would reveal a high C/O ratio, suggesting the atmosphere of 55 Cancri e is a carbon-rich environment.
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rho 55 Cancri e
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Title: On the potentially dramatic history of the super-Earth rho 55 Cancri e
Author: Brad Hansen, Jonathon Zink

We demonstrate that tidal evolution of the inner planet (`e') of the system orbiting the star rho 55 Cancri could have led to passage through two secular resonances with other planets in the system. The consequence of this evolution is excitation of both the planetary eccentricity and inclination relative to the original orbital plane. The large mass ratio between the innermost planet and the others means that these excitations can be of substantial amplitude and can have dramatic consequences for the system organisation. Such evolution can potentially explain the large observed mutual inclination between the innermost and outermost planets in the system, and implies that tidal heating could have substantially modified the structure of planet e, and possibly reduced its mass by Roche lobe overflow. Similar inner secular resonances may be found in many multiple planet systems and suggest that many of the innermost planets in these systems could have suffered similar evolutions.

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Title: Variability in the super-Earth 55 Cnc e
Author: Brice-Olivier Demory, Michael Gillon, Nikku Madhusudhan, Didier Queloz

onsiderable progress has been made in recent years in observations of atmospheric signatures of giant exoplanets, but processes in rocky exoplanets remain largely unknown due to major challenges in observing small planets. Numerous efforts to observe spectra of super-Earths, exoplanets with masses of 1-10 Earth masses, have thus far revealed only featureless spectra. In this paper we report a 4-sigma detection of variability in the dayside thermal emission from the transiting super-Earth 55 Cancri e. Dedicated space-based monitoring of the planet in the mid-infrared over eight eclipses revealed the thermal emission from its dayside atmosphere varying by a factor 3.7 between 2012 and 2013. The amplitude and trend of the variability are not explained by potential influence of star spots or by local thermal or compositional changes in the atmosphere over the short span of the observations. The possibility of large scale surface activity due to strong tidal interactions possibly similar to Io, or the presence of circumstellar/circumplanetary material appear plausible and motivate future long-term monitoring of the planet.

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Astronomers find first evidence of changing conditions on a super Earth

Astronomers have detected wildly changing temperatures on a super Earth - the first time any atmospheric variability has been observed on a rocky planet outside the solar system - and believe it could be due to huge amounts of volcanic activity, further adding to the mystery of what had been nicknamed the 'diamond planet'.
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55 Cancri b
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First puffy, 'warm Jupiter' spotted

Wrapped up snug in a warm, puffy atmosphere, the gas giant planet 55 Cancri b may not realise it is living on the edge.
But it turns out the planet is at just the right distance from its star for its gassy covering to start slipping away. The discovery of this slowly evaporating exoplanet could help us better understand atmospheres in our solar system, including why some worlds have them while others don't.

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Nearby super-Earth likely a diamond planet

New research led by Yale University scientists suggests that a rocky planet twice Earth's size orbiting a nearby star is a diamond planet.

"This is our first glimpse of a rocky world with a fundamentally different chemistry from Earth. The surface of this planet is likely covered in graphite and diamond rather than water and granite" - lead researcher Nikku Madhusudhan, a Yale postdoctoral researcher in physics and astronomy

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55 Cancri e
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Title: A Possible Carbon-rich Interior in Super-Earth 55 Cancri e
Authors: Nikku Madhusudhan (Yale Univ.), Kanani K. M. Lee (Yale Univ.), Olivier Mousis (CNRS, France)

Terrestrial planets in the solar system, such as the Earth, are oxygen-rich, with silicates and iron being the most common minerals in their interiors. However, the true chemical diversity of rocky planets orbiting other stars is yet unknown. Mass and radius measurements are used to constrain the interior compositions of super-Earths (exoplanets with masses of 1 - 10 Earth masses), and are typically interpreted with planetary interior models that assume Earth-centric oxygen-rich compositions. Using such models, the super-Earth 55 Cancri e (mass of 8 Earth masses, radius of 2 Earth radii) has been suggested to bear an interior composition consisting of Fe, silicates, and an envelope (>= 10% by mass) of super-critical water. We report that the mass and radius of 55 Cancri e can also be explained by a carbon-rich solid interior made of Fe, C, SiC, and/or silicates and without a volatile envelope. While the data allow Fe mass fractions of up to 40%, a wide range of C, SiC and/or silicate mass fractions are possible. A carbon-rich 55 Cancri e is also plausible if its protoplanetary disk bore the same composition as its host star, which has been reported to be carbon-rich. However, more precise estimates of the stellar elemental abundances and observations of the planetary atmosphere are required to further constrain its interior composition. The possibility of a C-rich interior in 55 Cancri e opens a new regime of geochemistry and geophysics in extraterrestrial rocky planets, compared to terrestrial planets in the solar system.

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55 Cancri b
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Title: Hint of a transiting extended atmosphere on 55 Cancri b
Authors: David Ehrenreich, Vincent Bourrier, Xavier Bonfils, Alain Lecavelier des Etangs, Guillaume Hébrard, David K. Sing, Peter J. Wheatley, Alfred Vidal-Madjar, Xavier Delfosse, Stéphane Udry, Thierry Forveille, Claire Moutou

The naked-eye star 55 Cancri hosts a planetary system with five known planets, including a hot super-Earth (55 Cnc e) extremely close to its star and a farther out giant planet (55 Cnc b), found in milder irradiation conditions with respect to other known hot Jupiters. This system raises important questions on the evolution of atmospheres for close-in exoplanets, and the dependence with planetary mass and irradiation. These questions can be addressed by Lyman-alpha transit observations of the extended hydrogen planetary atmospheres, complemented by contemporaneous measurements of the stellar X-ray flux. In fact, planet 'e' has been detected in transit, suggesting the system is seen nearly edge-on. Yet, planet `b' has not been observed in transit so far. Here, we report on Hubble Space Telescope STIS Lyman-alpha and Chandra ACIS-S X-ray observations of 55 Cnc. These simultaneous observations cover two transits of 55 Cnc e and two inferior conjunctions of 55 Cnc b. They reveal the star as a bright Lyman-alpha target and a variable X-ray source. While no significant signal is detected during the transits of 55 Cnc e, we detect a surprising Lyman-alpha absorption of 7.5 ± 1.8% (4.2 sigma) at inferior conjunctions of 55 Cnc b. The absorption is only detected over the range of Doppler velocities where the stellar radiation repels hydrogen atoms towards the observer. We calculate a false-alarm probability of 4.4%, which takes into account the a-priori unknown transit parameters. This result suggests the possibility that 55 Cnc b has an extended upper H I atmosphere, which undergoes partial transits when the planet grazes the stellar disc. If confirmed, it would show that planets cooler than hot Jupiters can also have extended atmospheres.

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Rho1 Cancri e
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Title: Revisiting rho 1 Cancri e: A New Mass Determination Of The Transiting super-Earth
Authors: Michael Endl, Paul Robertson, William D. Cochran, Phillip J. MacQueen, Erik J. Brugamyer, Caroline Caldwell, Robert A. Wittenmyer, Stuart I. Barnes, Kevin Gullikson

We present a mass determination for the transiting super-Earth rho 1 Cancri e based on nearly 700 precise radial velocity (RV) measurements. This extensive RV data set consists of data collected by the McDonald Observatory planet search and published data from Lick and Keck observatories (Fischer et al. 2008). We obtained 212 RV measurements with the Tull Coude Spectrograph at the Harlan J. Smith 2.7 m Telescope and combined them with a new Doppler reduction of the 131 spectra that we have taken in 2003-2004 with the High-Resolution-Spectrograph (HRS) at the Hobby-Eberly Telescope (HET) for the original discovery of rho 1 Cancri e. Using this large data set we obtain a 5-planet Keplerian orbital solution for the system and measure an RV semi-amplitude of K = 6.29 ± 0.21 m/s for rho 1 Cnc e and determine a mass of 8.37 ± 0.38 Earth masses. The uncertainty in mass is thus less than 5%. This planet was previously found to transit its parent star (Winn et al. 2011, Demory et al. 2011), which allowed them to estimate its radius. Combined with the latest radius estimate from Gillon et al. (2012), we obtain a mean density of rho = 4.50 ± 0.20 g/cm³. The location of rho 1 Cnc e in the mass-radius diagram suggests that the planet contains a significant amount of volatiles, possibly a water-rich envelope surrounding a rocky core.

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