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Centro de Astrofísica da Universidade do Porto

Misaligned spin-orbit in the XO-3 planetary system?

G. Hébrard, F. Bouchy, F. Pont, B. Loeillet, M. Rabus, X. Bonfils, C. Moutou, I. Boisse, X. Delfosse, M. Desort, P. Eggenberger, D. Ehrenreich, T. Forveille, A.-M. Lagrange, C. Lovis, M. Mayor, F. Pepe, C. Perrier, D. Queloz, N. C. Santos, D. Ségransan, S. Udry, A. Vidal-Madjar

The transiting extrasolar planet XO-3b is remarkable, with a high mass and eccentric orbit. These unusual characteristics make it interesting to test whether its orbital plane is parallel to the equator of its host star, as it is observed for other transiting planets. We performed radial velocity measurements of XO-3 with the SOPHIE spectrograph at the 1.93-m telescope of Haute-Provence Observatory during a planetary transit, and at other orbital phases. This allowed us to observe the Rossiter-McLaughlin effect and, together with a new analysis of the transit light curve, to refine the parameters of the planet. The unusual shape of the radial velocity anomaly during the transit provides a hint for a nearly transverse Rossiter-McLaughlin effect. The sky-projected angle between the planetary orbital axis and the stellar rotation axis should be λ = 70º± 15º to be compatible with our observations. This suggests that some close-in planets might result from gravitational interaction between planets and/or stars rather than migration due to interaction with the accretion disk. This surprising result requires confirmation by additional observations, especially at lower airmass, to fully exclude the possibility that the signal is due to systematic effects.

Astronomy and Astrophysics
Volume 488, Page 763
September 2008

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