Retired a stars and their companions. III. Comparing the mass-period distributions of planets around a-type stars and sun-like stars

Brendan P. Bowler, John Asher Johnson, Geoffrey W. Marcy, Gregory W. Henry, Kathryn M G Peek, Debra A. Fischer, Kelsey I. Clubb, Michael C. Liu, Sabine Reffert, Christian Schwab, Thomas B. Lowe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

168 Citations (Scopus)


We present an analysis of 5 years of Lick Observatory radial velocity measurements targeting a uniform sample of 31 intermediate-mass (IM) subgiants (1.5 ≲ M */M ≲ 2.0) with the goal of measuring the occurrence rate of Jovian planets around (evolved) A-type stars and comparing the distributions of their orbital and physical characteristics to those of planets around Sun-like stars. We provide updated orbital solutions incorporating new radial velocity measurements for five known planet-hosting stars in our sample; uncertainties in the fitted parameters are assessed using a Markov-Chain Monte Carlo method. The frequency of Jovian planets interior to 3 AU is 26+9 -8%, which is significantly higher than the 5%-10% frequency observed around solar-mass stars. The median detection threshold for our sample includes minimum masses down to {0.2, 0.3, 0.5, 0.6, 1.3} M Jup within {0.1, 0.3, 0.6, 1.0, 3.0} AU. To compare the properties of planets around IM stars to those around solar-mass stars we synthesize a population of planets based on the parametric relationship dN M α P β dlnMdlnP, the observed planet frequency, and the detection limits we derived. We find that the values of α and β for planets around solar-type stars from Cumming etal. fail to reproduce the observed properties of planets in our sample at the 4σ level, even when accounting for the different planet occurrence rates. Thus, the properties of planets around A stars are markedly different than those around Sun-like stars, suggesting that only a small (50%) increase in stellar mass has a large influence on the formation and orbital evolution of planets.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)396-410
Number of pages15
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Planetary systems: formation
  • Stars: individual (HD 167042, HD 192699, HD 210702, kappa CrB, 6 Lyn)
  • Techniques: radial velocities


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