Happy to report that we have discovered three small planets, plus one additional candidate planet, around a small cool star. This is some very nice work by my PhD student Rob Wells. The planets were discovered using data from the Kepler K2 space telescope. The planets are in fairly close orbits around their host star; the candidate planet, for which we need some more data to be certain it is really a planet, might be in the habitable zone of the star. Here’s some more info about the paper:
We report on the detection of three transiting small planets around the low-mass star LP 358-499 (K2-133), using photometric data from the Kepler-K2 mission. Using multiband photometry, we determine the host star to be an early M dwarf with an age likely older than a Gigayear. The three detected planets K2-133 b, c, and d have orbital periods of ca. 3, 4.9 and 11 days and transit depths of ca. 700, 1000 and 2000 ppm, respectively. We also report a planetary candidate in the system (EPIC 247887989.01) with a period of 26.6 days and a depth of ca. 1000 ppm, which may be at the inner edge of the stellar habitable zone, depending on the specific host star properties. Using the transit parameters and the stellar properties, we estimate that the innermost planet may be rocky. The system is suited for follow-up observations to measure planetary masses and JWST transmission spectra of planetary atmospheres.
“Three small transiting planets around the M dwarf host star LP 358-499”, Wells, R.; Poppenhaeger, K.; Watson, C. A., accepted for publication by MNRAS Letters (2017).