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Characterizing Exoplanets Through Precise Timing of Exoplanetary Orbits

Thursday, March 26, 2015
12:00 AM
411 West Hall

Abstract: The detection of extra-solar planets around nearby stars has had a huge impact on our understanding of planet formation, structure, and orbital dynamics. However, large uncertainties in the basic parameters for planetary systems, such as period, time of periastron, stellar mass and radius, lead to significant issues when trying to conduct in-depth surveys of the known explanatory systems. The Transit Ephemeris Refinement and Monitoring Survey (TERMS) is an exhaustive observing campaign to refine and improve constraints on the orbital parameters for nearby exoplanet systems with bright host stars. The radial velocity (RV) component of the TERMS project results in the most accurate ephemerides for RV-discovered planets orbiting bright host stars. The precisely determined orbits enable a variety of photometric follow-up activities, including monitoring for transits, discovery of additional companions, and characterization of orbital dynamics. We ultimately seek to provide a greater understanding of the evolutionary processes that produce the diversity of observable orbits and stable planetary structures within nearby bright planetary systems. Our network of established collaborators at a variety of flexible telescopes provides us with the data we need during time-sensitive events. These observations, in conjunction with our vetted database infrastructure and data reduction pipeline, enable the TERMS project to achieve the most complete characterization of individual exoplanetary systems in both the northern and southern hemispheres. Kane will present the latest results from TERMS, new observations of of a variety of systems, and discuss relevance to target selection for upcoming exoplanet space missions, such as the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) and the CHaracterising ExOPlanet Satellite (CHEOPS).

Stephen Kane, San Francisco State University