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Confirmation of the radial velocity super-Earth K2-18c with HARPS and CARMENES

R. Cloutier, N. Astudillo-Defru, R. Doyon, X. Bonfils, J. -M. Almenara, F. Bouchy, X. Delfosse, T. Forveille, C. Lovis, M. Mayor, K. Menou, F. Murgas, F. Pepe, N. C. Santos, S. Udry, A. Wünsche

In an earlier campaign to characterize the mass of the transiting temperate super-Earth K2-18b with HARPS, a second, non-transiting planet was posited to exist in the system at ~9 days. Further radial velocity follow-up with the CARMENES spectrograph visible channel revealed a much weaker signal at 9 days, which also appeared to vary chromatically and temporally, leading to the conclusion that the origin of the 9-day signal was more likely related to stellar activity than to a planetary presence. Here we conduct a detailed reanalysis of all available RV time-series – including a set of 31 previously unpublished HARPS measurements – to investigate the effects of time-sampling and of simultaneous modelling of planetary plus activity signals on the existence and origin of the curious 9-day signal. We conclude that the 9-day signal is real and was initially seen to be suppressed in the CARMENES data due to a small number of anomalous measurements, although the exact cause of these anomalies remains unknown. Investigation of the signal’s evolution in time with wavelength and detailed model comparison reveals that the 9-day signal is most likely planetary in nature. Using this analysis, we reconcile the conflicting HARPS and CARMENES results and measure precise and self-consistent planet masses of mp,b = 8.63 ± 1.35 and mp,c sinic = 5.62 ± 0.84 Earth masses. This work, along with the previously published RV papers on the K2-18 planetary system, highlights the importance of understanding the time-sampling and of modelling the simultaneous planet plus stochastic activity, particularly when searching for sub-Neptune-sized planets with radial velocities.

techniques: radial velocities / planets and satellites: fundamental parameters / planets and satellites: detection / methods: data analysis / planets and satellites: individual: K2-18

* Based on observations made with the HARPS instrument on the ESO 3.6 m telescope under the programme IDs 191.C-0873(A) and 198.C-0838(A) at Cerro La Silla (Chile).
** Full Table A.1 is only available at the CDS via anonymous ftp to ( or via

Astronomy & Astrophysics
Volume 621, Article Number A49, Number of pages 18
2019 January

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Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa Universidade do Porto Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia da Universidade de Coimbra
Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia COMPETE 2020 PORTUGAL 2020 União Europeia