Angie Wolfgang, Leslie A. Rogers, Eric B. Ford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

182 Scopus citations


The Kepler Mission has discovered thousands of planets with radii <4 , paving the way for the first statistical studies of the dynamics, formation, and evolution of these sub-Neptunes and super-Earths. Planetary masses are an important physical property for these studies, and yet the vast majority of Kepler planet candidates do not have theirs measured. A key concern is therefore how to map the measured radii to mass estimates in this Earth-to-Neptune size range where there are no Solar System analogs. Previous works have derived deterministic, one-to-one relationships between radius and mass. However, if these planets span a range of compositions as expected, then an intrinsic scatter about this relationship must exist in the population. Here we present the first probabilistic mass-radius relationship (M-R relation) evaluated within a Bayesian framework, which both quantifies this intrinsic dispersion and the uncertainties on the M-R relation parameters. We analyze how the results depend on the radius range of the sample, and on how the masses were measured. Assuming that the M-R relation can be described as a power law with a dispersion that is constant and normally distributed, we find that , a scatter in mass of , and a mass constraint to physically plausible densities, is the "best-fit" probabilistic M-R relation for the sample of RV-measured transiting sub-Neptunes (R pl < 4 ). More broadly, this work provides a framework for further analyses of the M-R relation and its probable dependencies on period and stellar properties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number19
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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