Starspots and spin-orbit alignment for Kepler cool host stars



The angle between the spin axis of the host star and the orbit of its planets (i.e., the stellar obliquity) is precious information about the formation and evolution of exoplanetary systems. Measurements of the Rossiter-McLaughlin effect revealed that many stars that host a hot-Jupiter have high obliquities, suggesting that hot-Jupiter formation involves excitation of orbital inclinations. In this contribution we show how the passage of the planet over starspots can be used to measure the obliquity of exoplanetary systems. This technique is used to obtain – for the first time – the obliquity of a system with several planets that lie in a disk, Kepler-30, with the result that the star has an obliquity smaller than 10 degrees. The implications for the formation of exoplanetary systems, in particular the hot-Jupiter population, are also discussed. (© 2013 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim)