Kelt-9 b's asymmetric tess transit caused by rapid stellar rotation and spin-orbit misalignment

John P. Ahlers, John P. Ahlers, Marshall C. Johnson, Keivan G. Stassun, Keivan G. Stassun, Knicole D. Colón, Knicole D. Colón, Jason W. Barnes, Daniel J. Stevens, Daniel J. Stevens, Thomas Beatty, B. Scott Gaudi, Karen A. Collins, Joseph E. Rodriguez, George Ricker, Roland Vanderspek, David Latham, Sara Seager, Sara Seager, Sara SeagerJoshua Winn, Jon M. Jenkins, Douglas A. Caldwell, Robert F. Goeke, Hugh P. Osborn, Hugh P. Osborn, Martin Paegert, Pam Rowden, Peter Tenenbaum, Peter Tenenbaum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


KELT-9 b is an ultra-hot Jupiter transiting a rapidly rotating, oblate early-A-type star in a polar orbit. We model the effect of rapid stellar rotation on KELT-9 b's transit light curve using photometry from the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite to constrain the planet's true spin-orbit angle and to explore how KELT-9 b may be influenced by stellar gravity darkening. We constrain the host star's equatorial radius to be 1.089 ± 0.017 times as large as its polar radius and its local surface brightness to vary by ∼38% between its hot poles and cooler equator. We model the stellar oblateness and surface brightness gradient and find that it causes the transit light curve to lack the usual symmetry around the time of minimum light. We take advantage of the light-curve asymmetry to constrain KELT-9 b's true spin-orbit angle (87° +10° -11° ) agreeing with Gaudi et al. that KELT-9 b is in a nearly polar orbit. We also apply a gravity-darkening correction to the spectral energy distribution model from Gaudi et al. and find that accounting for rapid rotation gives a better fit to available spectroscopy and yields a more reliable estimate for the star's polar effective temperature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number4
JournalAstronomical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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