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Signs of magnetic star-planet interactions in HD 118203 TESS detects stellar variability that matches the orbital period of a close-in eccentric Jupiter-sized companion

Authors: Castro-González, A.; Lillo-Box, J.; Correia, ACM; Santos, NC; Barrado, D.; Morales-Calderón, M.; Shkolnik, EL

Ref.: Astron. Astrophys. 684, A160 (2024)

Abstract: Context. Planetary systems with close-in giant planets can experience magnetic star-planet interactions that modify the activity levels of their host stars. The induced activity is known to strongly depend on the magnetic moment of the interacting planet. Therefore, such planet-induced activity should be more readily observable in systems with close-in planets in eccentric orbits, since those planets are expected to rotate faster than in circular orbits. However, no evidence of magnetic interactions has been reported in eccentric planetary systems to date. Aims. We intend to unveil a possible planet-induced activity in the bright (V = 8.05 +/- 0.03 mag) and slightly evolved star HD 118203, which is known to host an eccentric (e = 0.32 +/- 0.02) and close-in (a = 0.0864 +/- 0.0006 au) Jupiter-sized planet. Methods. We characterized the planetary system by jointly modelling 56 ELODIE radial velocities and four sectors of TESS photometry. We computed the generalized Lomb-Scargle periodogram of the TESS, ELODIE, and complementary ASAS-SN data to search for planet-induced and rotation-related activity signals. We studied the possible origins of the stellar variability found, analysed its persistence and evolution, and searched for possible links with the eccentric orbital motion of HD 118203 b. Results. We found evidence of an activity signal within the TESS photometry that matches the 6.1-day orbital period of its hosted planet HD 118203 b, which suggests the existence of magnetic star-planet interactions. We did not find, however, any additional activity signal that could be unambiguously interpreted as the rotation of the star, so we cannot discard stellar rotation as the actual source of the signal found. Nevertheless, both the evolved nature of the star and the significant orbital eccentricity make the synchronous stellar rotation with the planetary orbit very unlikely. Conclusions. The planetary system HD 118203 represents the best evidence that magnetic star-planet interactions can be found in eccentric planetary systems, and it opens the door to future dedicated searches in such systems that will allow us to better understand the interplay between close-in giant planets and their host stars.

DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/202348722