An unusually low-density super-Earth transiting the bright early-type M-dwarf GJ 1018 (TOI-244)

Castro-González, A.; Demangeon, O. D. S.; Lillo-Box, J.; Lovis, C.; Lavie, B.; Adibekyan, V.; Acuña, L.; Deleuil, M.; Aguichine, A.; Zapatero Osorio, M. R.; Tabernero, H. M.; Davoult, J.; Alibert, Y.; Santos, N.; Sousa, S. G.; Antoniadis-Karnavas, A.; Borsa, F.; Winn, J. N.; Allende Prieto, C.; Figueira, P.; Jenkins, J. M.; Sozzetti, A.; Damasso, M.; Silva, A. M.; Astudillo-Defru, N.; Barros, S. C. C.; Bonfils, X.; Cristiani, S.; Di Marcantonio, P.; González Hernández, J. I.; Curto, G. Lo; Martins, C. J. A. P.; Nunes, N. J.; Palle, E.; Pepe, F.; Seager, S.; Suárez Mascareño, A.
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Astronomy and Astrophysics

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Context. Small planets located at the lower mode of the bimodal radius distribution are generally assumed to be composed of iron and silicates in a proportion similar to that of the Earth. However, recent discoveries are revealing a new group of low-density planets that are inconsistent with that description.
Aims: We intend to confirm and characterize the TESS planet candidate TOI-244.01, which orbits the bright (K = 7.97 mag), nearby (d = 22 pc), and early-type (M2.5 V) M-dwarf star GJ 1018 with an orbital period of 7.4 days.
Methods: We used Markov chain Monte Carlo methods to model 57 precise radial velocity measurements acquired by the ESPRESSO spectrograph together with TESS photometry and complementary HARPS data. Our model includes a planetary component and Gaussian processes aimed at modeling the correlated stellar and instrumental noise.
Results: We find TOI-244 b to be a super-Earth with a radius of Rp = 1.52 ± 0.12 R⊕ and a mass of Mp = 2.68 ± 0.30 M⊕. These values correspond to a density of ρ = 4.2 ± 1.1 g cm−3, which is below what would be expected for an Earth-like composition. We find that atmospheric loss processes may have been efficient to remove a potential primordial hydrogen envelope, but high mean molecular weight volatiles such as water could have been retained. Our internal structure modeling suggests that TOI-244 b has a 479−96+128 km thick hydrosphere over a 1.17 ± 0.09 R⊕ solid structure composed of a Fe-rich core and a silicate-dominated mantle compatible with that of the Earth. On a population level, we find two tentative trends in the density-metallicity and density-insolation parameter space for the low-density super-Earths, which may hint at their composition.
Conclusions: With a 8% precision in radius and 12% precision in mass, TOI-244 b is among the most precisely characterized super-Earths, which, together with the likely presence of an extended hydrosphere, makes it a key target for atmospheric observations.

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