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CHEOPS precision phase curve of the Super-Earth 55 Cancri e

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Morris, BM 
Delrez, L 
Brandeker, A 
Cameron, AC 
Simon, AE 


55 Cnc e is a transiting super-Earth (radius 1.88R and mass 8M) orbiting a G8V host star on a 17-hour orbit. Spitzer observations of the planet's phase curve at 4.5 μm revealed a time-varying occultation depth, and MOST optical observations are consistent with a time-varying phase curve amplitude and phase offset of maximum light. Both broadband and high-resolution spectroscopic analyses are consistent with either a high mean molecular weight atmosphere or no atmosphere for planet e. A long term photometric monitoring campaign on an independent optical telescope is needed to probe the variability in this system. We seek to measure the phase variations of 55 Cnc e with a broadband optical filter with the 30 cm effective aperture space telescope CHEOPS and explore how the precision photometry narrows down the range of possible scenarios. We observed 55 Cnc for 1.6 orbital phases in March of 2020. We designed a phase curve detrending toolkit for CHEOPS photometry which allows us to study the underlying flux variations of the 55 Cnc system. We detected a phase variation with a full-amplitude of 72±7 ppm but do not detect a significant secondary eclipse of the planet. The shape of the phase variation resembles that of a piecewise-Lambertian, however the non-detection of the planetary secondary eclipse, and the large amplitude of the variations exclude reflection from the planetary surface as a possible origin of the observed phase variations. They are also likely incompatible with magnetospheric interactions between the star and planet but may imply that circumplanetary or circumstellar material modulate the flux of the system. Further precision photometry of 55 Cnc from CHEOPS will measure variations in the phase curve amplitude and shape over time this year.



techniques: photometric, methods: observational, planets and satellites: atmospheres, stars: individual: 55 Cnc, planets and satellites: individual: 55 Cnc e, instrumentation: photometers

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Astronomy and Astrophysics

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EDP Sciences
STFC (ST/T003081/1)
This work benefited from support from the Swiss National Science Foundation (PP00P2-163967 and PP00P2-190080). This project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (project Four Aces; grant agreement No 724427). This work was supported by FCT - Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia through national funds and by FEDER through COMPETE2020 - Programa Operacional Competitividade e Internacionalização by these grants: UID/FIS/04434/2019; UIDB/04434/2020; UIDP/04434/2020; PTDC/FIS-AST/32113/2017 & POCI-01-0145-FEDER032113; PTDC/FIS-AST/28953/2017 & POCI-01-0145-FEDER-028953; PTDC/FIS-AST/28987/2017 & POCI-01-0145-FEDER-028987. S.C.C.B. and S.G.S. acknowledge support from FCT through FCT contracts nr. IF/01312/2014/CP1215/CT0004, IF/00028/2014/CP1215/CT0002. O.D.S.D. is supported in the form of work contract (DL 57/2016/CP1364/CT0004) funded by national funds through Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (FCT). XB, SC, DG, MF and JL acknowledge their roles as ESA-appointed CHEOPS science team members. ACC and TW acknowledge support from STFC consolidated grant number ST/R000824/1. This project was supported by the CNES. SH gratefully acknowledges CNES funding through the grant 837319. PM acknowledges support from STFC consolidated grant number ST/M001040/1. KGI is the ESA CHEOPS Project Scientist and is responsible for the ESA CHEOPS Guest Observers Programme. She does not participate in, or contribute to, the definition of the Guaranteed Time Programme of the CHEOPS mission through which observations described in this paper have been taken, nor to any aspect of target selection for the programme.