Detailed Models of Super‐Earths: How Well Can We Infer Bulk Properties?

Diana Valencia, Dimitar D. Sasselov, Richard J. O'Connell
2007 Astrophysical Journal  
The field of extrasolar planets has rapidly expanded to include the detection of planets with masses smaller than that of Uranus. Many of these are expected to have little or no hydrogen and helium gas and we might find Earth analogs among them. In this paper we describe our detailed interior models for a rich variety of such massive terrestrial and ocean planets in the 1-to-10 earth-mass range (super-Earths). The grid presented here allows the characterization of the bulk composition of
more » ... mposition of super-Earths detected in transit and with a measured mass. We show that, on average, planet radius measurements to better than 5%, combined with mass measurements to better than 10% would permit us to distinguish between an icy or rocky composition. This is due to the fact that there is a maximum radius a rocky terrestrial planet may achieve for a given mass. Any value of the radius above this maximum terrestrial radius implies that the planet contains a large (> 10%) amount of water (ocean planet).
doi:10.1086/519554 fatcat:aqoq6axfunbb3cinqnmcvj5gdq