Orbital misalignment of the super-Earth π Men c with the spin of its star

Vedad Kunovac Hodžić, Amaury H. M. J. Triaud, Heather M. Cegla, William J. Chaplin, Guy R. Davies

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Planet-planet scattering events can leave an observable trace of a planet's migration history in the form of orbital misalignment with respect to the stellar spin axis, which is measurable from spectroscopic time-series taken during transit. We present high-resolution spectroscopic transits observed with ESPRESSO of the close-in super-Earth πMen c. The system also contains an outer giant planet on a wide, eccentric orbit, recently found to be inclined with respect to the inner planetary orbit. These characteristics are reminiscent of past dynamical interactions. We successfully retrieve the planet-occulted light during transit, and find evidence that the orbit of πMen c is moderately misaligned with the stellar spin axis with λ =-24.0 ± 41 (ψ = 26.9+5. 8-4.7). This is consistent with the super-Earth πMen c having followed a high-eccentricity migration followed by tidal circularization, and hints that super-Earths can form at large distances from their star. We also detect clear signatures of solar-like oscillations within our ESPRESSO radial velocity time series, where we reach a radial velocity precision of ∼20 cm s-1. We model the oscillations using Gaussian processes (GPs) and retrieve a frequency of maximum oscillation, ν max= 2771+65-60, μ Hz. These oscillations make it challenging to detect the Rossiter-McLaughlin effect using traditional methods. We are, however, successful using the reloaded Rossiter-McLaughlin approach. Finally, in the appendix, we also present physical parameters and ephemerides for πMen c from a GP transit analysis of the full Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite Cycle 1 data.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2893–2911
Number of pages19
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number2
Early online date29 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021

Bibliographical note

20 pages, 11 figures. Published in MNRAS


  • asteroseismology
  • binaries: eclipsing
  • techniques: radial velocity
  • techniques: spectroscopic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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