Split Peas in a Pod: Intra-system Uniformity of Super-Earths and Sub-Neptunes

Sarah C. Millholland, Joshua N. Winn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


The planets within compact multiplanet systems tend to have similar sizes, masses, and orbital period ratios, like "peas in a pod."This pattern was detected when considering planets with radii between 1 and 4 R ⊕. However, these same planets show a bimodal radius distribution, with few planets between 1.5 and 2 R ⊕. The smaller "super-Earths"are consistent with being stripped rocky cores, while the larger "sub-Neptunes"likely have gaseous H/He envelopes. Given these distinct structures, it is worthwhile to test for intra-system uniformity separately within each category of planets. Here, we find that the tendency for intra-system uniformity is twice as strong when considering planets within the same size category than it is when combining all planets together. The sub-Neptunes tend to be {1.7}_{-0.3}^{+0.6} times larger than the super-Earths in the same system, corresponding to an envelope mass fraction of about 2.6% for a 5 M ⊕ planet. For the sub-Neptunes, the low-metallicity stars are found to have planets with more equal sizes, with modest statistical significance (p ∼ 0.005). There is also a modest (∼2σ) tendency for wider-orbiting planets to be larger, even within the same size category.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberL34
JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 20 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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