Kepler-20: A sun-like star with three sub-neptune exoplanets and two earth-size candidates

Thomas N. Gautier, David Charbonneau, Jason F. Rowe, Geoffrey W. Marcy, Howard Isaacson, Guillermo Torres, Francois Fressin, Leslie A. Rogers, Jean Michel Désert, Lars A. Buchhave, David W. Latham, Samuel N. Quinn, David R. Ciardi, Daniel C. Fabrycky, Eric B. Ford, Ronald L. Gilliland, Lucianne M. Walkowicz, Stephen T. Bryson, William D. Cochran, Michael EndlDebra A. Fischer, Steve B. Howell, Elliott P. Horch, Thomas Barclay, Natalie Batalha, William J. Borucki, Jessie L. Christiansen, John C. Geary, Christopher E. Henze, Matthew J. Holman, Khadeejah Ibrahim, Jon M. Jenkins, Karen Kinemuchi, David G. Koch, Jack J. Lissauer, Dwight T. Sanderfer, Dimitar D. Sasselov, Sara Seager, Kathryn Silverio, Jeffrey C. Smith, Martin Still, Martin C. Stumpe, Peter Tenenbaum, Jeffrey Van Cleve

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

97 Scopus citations


We present the discovery of the Kepler-20 planetary system, which we initially identified through the detection of five distinct periodic transit signals in the Kepler light curve of the host star 2MASS J19104752+4220194. From high-resolution spectroscopy of the star, we find a stellar effective temperature T eff = 5455 100 K, a metallicity of [Fe/H] = 0.01 0.04, and a surface gravity of log g = 4.4 0.1. We combine these estimates with an estimate of the stellar density derived from the transit light curves to deduce a stellar mass of M = 0.912 0.034 M and a stellar radius of R = 0.944 +0.060 -0.095 R. For three of the transit signals, we demonstrate that our results strongly disfavor the possibility that these result from astrophysical false positives. We accomplish this by first identifying the subset of stellar blends that reproduce the precise shape of the light curve and then using the constraints on the presence of additional stars from high angular resolution imaging, photometric colors, and the absence of a secondary component in our spectroscopic observations. We conclude that the planetary scenario is more likely than that of an astrophysical false positive by a factor of 2 × 105 (Kepler-20b), 1 × 105 (Kepler-20c), and 1.1 × 103 (Kepler-20d), sufficient to validate these objects as planetary companions. For Kepler-20c and Kepler-20d, the blend scenario is independently disfavored by the achromaticity of the transit: from Spitzer data gathered at 4.5 μm, we infer a ratio of the planetary to stellar radii of 0.075 0.015 (Kepler-20c) and 0.065 0.011 (Kepler-20d), consistent with each of the depths measured in the Kepler optical bandpass. We determine the orbital periods and physical radii of the three confirmed planets to be 3.70days and 1.91+0.12 -0.21 R for Kepler-20b, 10.85days and 3.07+0.20 -0.31 R for Kepler-20c, and 77.61days and 2.75+0.17 -0.30 R for Kepler-20d. From multi-epoch radial velocities, we determine the masses of Kepler-20b and Kepler-20c to be 8.7 2.2 M and 16.1 3.5 M , respectively, and we place an upper limit on the mass of Kepler-20d of 20.1 M (2σ).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number15
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 10 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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