136 research outputs found

    Fundamental Parameters of Exoplanets and Their Host Stars

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    For much of human history we have wondered how our solar system formed, and whether there are any other planets like ours around other stars. Only in the last 20 years have we had direct evidence for the existence of exoplanets, with the number of known exoplanets dramatically increasing in recent years, especially with the success of the Kepler mission. Observations of these systems are becoming increasingly more precise and numerous, thus allowing for detailed studies of their masses, radii, densities, temperatures, and atmospheric compositions. However, one cannot accurately study exoplanets without examining their host stars in equal detail, and understanding what assumptions must be made to calculate planetary parameters from the directly derived observational parameters. In this thesis, I present observations and models of the primary transits and secondary eclipses of transiting exoplanets from both the ground and Kepler in order to better study their physical characteristics and search for additional exoplanets. I then identify, observe, and model new eclipsing binaries to better understand the stellar mass-radius relationship and stellar limb-darkening, compare these observations to the predictions of stellar models, and attempt to define to what extent these fundamental stellar characteristics can impact derived planetary parameters. I also present novel techniques for the direct determination of exoplanet masses and stellar inclinations via multi-wavelength astrometry, the ground-based photometric observation of stars at sub-millimagnitude precision, the reduction of Kepler photometry from pixel-level data, the extraction of radial velocities from spectroscopic observations, and the automatic identification, period analysis, and modeling of eclipsing binaries and transiting planets in large datasets.Comment: PhD Thesis, New Mexico State University (Sep 28, 2012), 326 pages, 63 figures, 24 table

    Kepler Planet Detection Metrics: Robovetter Completeness and Effectiveness for Data Release 25

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    In general, the Kepler pipeline identifies a list of Threshold Crossing Events (TCEs), which are periodic flux decrements meeting certain criteria (Jenkins, 2017). These TCEs are reviewed and those that appear consistent with astrophysically transiting or eclipsing systems are classified as Kepler Objects of Interest (KOIs). Further review is given to KOIs, which are then dispositioned as Planet Candidates (PCs) or False Positive (FPs). FPs are further denoted by four major flags that indicate if the signal is Not Transit-Like (NTL), due to a Stellar Eclipse (SS; previously referred to as Significant Secondary), and/or due to contamination from a source other than the target as evidenced by a Centroid Offset (CO) oran Ephemeris Match (EM) with another object. This entire TCE review process is known as dispositioning or vetting.In the first five Kepler mission planet candidate catalogs (Borucki et al., 2011a,b; Batalha et al., 2013; Burke et al., 2014; Rowe et al., 2015), TCEs were manually examined on an individual basis and dispositioned using various plots and quantitative diagnostic tests (see e.g., Coughlin, 2017). In the sixth catalog, Mullally et al. (2015a) employed partial automation via simple parameter cuts to automatically disposition a large fraction of TCEs as not transit-like. Mullally et al. (2015a) also used an automated technique known as the centroid Robovetter (Mullally, 2017) to automatically identify some FP KOIs due to centroid offsets - a telltale signature of light contamination from another target. The remaining targets were manually dispositioned. In the seventh catalog, Coughlin et al. (2016) automated theentire dispositioning process using what is collectively known simply as the Robovetter.In the eighth and final mission catalog, Thompson et al. (2017) use a revised Robovetter to automate the dispositioning of all TCEs with an emphasis on creating a catalog suitable for accurately determining planet occurrence rates. In order to calculate accurate occurrence rates, the completeness and effectiveness of the Robovetter must be characterized. We define these terms as applied to the Robovetter, following Thompson et al. (2017), as:1. Completeness: The fraction of transiting planets detected by the pipeline that are classified as planet candidates by the Robovetter.2. Effectiveness: The fraction of false positives detected by the pipeline that are classified as false positives by the Robovetter.The remainder of this document describes products that can be used to quantitatively assess Robovetter completeness and effectiveness for an arbitrary set of Kepler stars

    Planetary Candidates Observed by Kepler. VII. The First Fully Uniform Catalog Based on the Entire 48-month Data Set (Q1–Q17 DR24)

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    We present the seventh Kepler planet candidate (PC) catalog, which is the first catalog to be based on the entire, uniformly processed 48-month Kepler data set. This is the first fully automated catalog, employing robotic vetting procedures to uniformly evaluate every periodic signal detected by the Q1–Q17 Data Release 24 (DR24) Kepler pipeline. While we prioritize uniform vetting over the absolute correctness of individual objects, we find that our robotic vetting is overall comparable to, and in most cases superior to, the human vetting procedures employed by past catalogs. This catalog is the first to utilize artificial transit injection to evaluate the performance of our vetting procedures and to quantify potential biases, which are essential for accurate computation of planetary occurrence rates. With respect to the cumulative Kepler Object of Interest (KOI) catalog, we designate 1478 new KOIs, of which 402 are dispositioned as PCs. Also, 237 KOIs dispositioned as false positives (FPs) in previous Kepler catalogs have their disposition changed to PC and 118 PCs have their disposition changed to FPs. This brings the total number of known KOIs to 8826 and PCs to 4696. We compare the Q1–Q17 DR24 KOI catalog to previous KOI catalogs, as well as ancillary Kepler catalogs, finding good agreement between them. We highlight new PCs that are both potentially rocky and potentially in the habitable zone of their host stars, many of which orbit solar-type stars. This work represents significant progress in accurately determining the fraction of Earth-size planets in the habitable zone of Sun-like stars. The full catalog is publicly available at the NASA Exoplanet Archive

    Transit Timing Observations of the Extrasolar Hot-Neptune Planet GL 436b

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    Gliese 436 is an M dwarf with a mass of 0.45 Msun and hosts the extrasolar planet GL 436b [3, 6, 7, 2], which is currently the least massive transiting planet with a mass of ~23.17 Mearth [10], and the only planet known to transit an M dwarf. GL 436b represents the first transiting detection of the class of extrasolar planets known as "Hot Neptunes" that have masses within a few times that of Neptune's mass (~17 Mearth) and orbital semimajor axis <0.1 AU about the host star. Unlike most other known transiting extrasolar planets, GL 436b has a high eccentricity (e~0.16). This brings to light a new parameter space for habitability zones of extrasolar planets with host star masses much smaller than typical stars of roughly a solar mass. This unique system is an ideal candidate for orbital perturbation and transit-time variation (TTV) studies to detect smaller, possibly Earth-mass planets in the system. In April 2008 we began a long-term intensive campaign to obtain complete high-precision light curves using the Apache Point Observatory's 3.5-meter telescope, NMSU's 1-meter telescope (located at APO), and Sommers Bausch Observatory's 24" telescope. These light curves are being analyzed together, along with amateur and other professional astronomer observations. Results of our analysis are discussed. Continued measurements over the next few years are needed to determine if additional planets reside in the system, and to study the impact of other manifestations on the light curves, such as star spots and active regions.Comment: 4 pages, 3 figures. To appear in "Proceedings of the 15th Cambridge Workshop on Cool Stars, Stellar Systems and the Sun", 2009, AIP Conference Proceedings vol. 1094, ed. Eric Stempel

    Modeling Multi-Wavelength Stellar Astrometry. II. Determining Absolute Inclinations, Gravity Darkening Coefficients, and Spot Parameters of Single Stars with SIM Lite

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    We present a novel technique to determine the absolute inclination of single stars using multi-wavelength sub-milliarcsecond astrometry. The technique exploits the effect of gravity darkening, which causes a wavelength-dependent astrometric displacement parallel to a star's projected rotation axis. We find this effect is clearly detectable using SIM Lite for various giant stars and rapid rotators, and present detailed models for multiple systems using the REFLUX code. We also explore the multi-wavelength astrometric reflex motion induced by spots on single stars. We find that it should be possible to determine spot size, relative temperature, and some positional information for both giant and nearby main-sequence stars utilizing multi-wavelength SIM Lite data. This data will be extremely useful in stellar and exoplanet astrophysics, as well as supporting the primary SIM Lite mission through proper multi-wavelength calibration of the giant star astrometric reference frame, and reduction of noise introduced by starspots when searching for extrasolar planets.Comment: 8 pages, 7 figures, 4 tables. Accepted for publication in the Astrophysical Journa

    Modeling Multi-Wavelength Stellar Astrometry. I. SIM Lite Observations of Interacting Binaries

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    Interacting binaries consist of a secondary star which fills or is very close to filling its Roche lobe, resulting in accretion onto the primary star, which is often, but not always, a compact object. In many cases, the primary star, secondary star, and the accretion disk can all be significant sources of luminosity. SIM Lite will only measure the photocenter of an astrometric target, and thus determining the true astrometric orbits of such systems will be difficult. We have modified the Eclipsing Light Curve code (Orosz & Hauschildt 2000) to allow us to model the flux-weighted reflex motions of interacting binaries, in a code we call REFLUX. This code gives us sufficient flexibility to investigate nearly every configuration of interacting binary. We find that SIM Lite will be able to determine astrometric orbits for all sufficiently bright interacting binaries where the primary or secondary star dominates the luminosity. For systems where there are multiple components that comprise the spectrum in the optical bandpass accessible to SIM Lite, we find it is possible to obtain absolute masses for both components, although multi-wavelength photometry will be required to disentangle the multiple components. In all cases, SIM Lite will at least yield accurate inclinations, and provide valuable information that will allow us to begin to understand the complex evolution of mass-transferring binaries. It is critical that SIM Lite maintains a multi-wavelength capability to allow for the proper deconvolution of the astrometric orbits in multi-component systems.Comment: 12 pages, 6 figures, 6 tables. Accepted for publication in the Astrophysical Journa