A method for the direct determination of the surface gravities of transiting extrasolar planets

J. Southworth, P. J. Wheatley, G. Sams
2007 Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters  
We show that the surface gravity of a transiting extrasolar planet can be calculated from only the spectroscopic orbit of its parent star and the analysis of its transit light curve. This does not require additional constraints, such as are often inferred from theoretical stellar models or model atmospheres. The planet's surface gravity can therefore be measured precisely and from only directly observable quantities. We outline the method and apply it to the case of the first known transiting
more » ... known transiting extrasolar planet, HD 209458b. We find a surface gravity of g_p = 9.28 +/- 0.15 m/s, which is an order of magnitude more precise than the best available measurements of its mass, radius and density. This confirms that the planet has a much lower surface gravity that that predicted by published theoretical models of gas giant planets. We apply our method to all fourteen known transiting extrasolar planets and find a significant correlation between surface gravity and orbital period, which is related to the known correlation between mass and period. This correlation may be the underlying effect as surface gravity is a fundamental parameter in the evaporation of planetary atmospheres.
doi:10.1111/j.1745-3933.2007.00324.x fatcat:wm4cwtly3rehbkdbxuoyn2fq3u