Density discrepancy between transit-timing variations and radial velocity: Insights from the host star composition

Adibekyan, V.; Sousa, S. G.; Delgado Mena, E.; Santos, N. C.; Israelian, G.; Barros, S. C. C.; Martirosyan, Zh.; Hakobyan, A. A.
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Astronomy and Astrophysics

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Context. The determination of planetary densities from the masses derived with the radial velocity (RV) and transit-timing variation (TTV) methods reveals discrepancies. Specifically, planets detected through RV exhibit higher densities than those detected through TTV, even though their radii are similar. Understanding the origins of these discrepancies is crucial and timely, especially with upcoming ground- and space-based missions dedicated to exoplanet research.
Aims: We explored the possibility that the discrepant mass/densities in the TTV and RV populations might be linked to the properties of the environments in which these planets are formed.
Methods: For the largest currently available sample of FGK-type stars hosting low-mass TTV and RV planets, we determined the host star abundances. Then, by employing a simple stoichiometric model, we used these abundances to estimate the iron-to-silicate mass fraction (firon) and the water-mass fraction (wf) of the protoplanetary disks. We also calculated the kinematic properties of the host stars.
Results: We observed an indication that the hosts of TTV planets have slightly higher firon and lower wf values than their RV counterparts. This suggests that TTV planets (without considering their atmospheres) are denser than RV planets on average, which implies that larger atmospheres on TTV planets are required to account for their overall lower densities. However, we also note differences in the properties of the planets, such as their orbital periods, and variations in the quality of the spectroscopic data, which may have an impact on these results.
Conclusions: Exploring the TTV-RV mass and/or density discrepancy through a chemical analysis of the host star holds promise for future research, particularly with larger sample sizes and higher-quality data. Meanwhile, the provided detailed host star abundances can be employed to study the composition of the planets within the current sample, thereby contributing to a better understanding of the aforementioned discrepancy.