Detecting Transits of Planetary Companions to Giant Stars

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Detecting Transits of Planetary Companions to Giant Stars

Post by Edasich on 27th February 2009, 5:13 am

Since the transit detections are on a roll, I thought to post this one:

Detecting Transits of Planetary Companions to Giant Stars

Of the approximately 350 extrasolar planets currently known, of order 10% orbit evolved stars with radii R >~ 2.5 R_sun. These planets are of particular interest because they tend to orbit more massive hosts, and have been subjected to variable stellar insolation over their recent histories as their primaries evolved off the main sequence. Unfortunately, we have limited information about the physical properties of these planets, as they were all detected by the radial velocity method and none have been observed to transit. Here we evaluate the prospects for detecting transits of planetary companions to giant stars. We show that several of the known systems have a priori transit probabilities of >~ 10%, and about one transiting system is expected for the sample of host stars with R >= 2.5 R_sun. Although the transits are expected to have very small amplitudes (~few x 10^-4) and long durations (>~ 50 hrs), we argue that the difficulty with detecting these signals in broadband light is one of systematic errors and practicality rather than photon noise, even for modest aperture ~1m telescopes. We propose a novel method that may overcome these difficulties, which uses narrow-band measurements to isolate the thin ring of chromospheric emission expected at the limb of giant stars. The transit signals in these narrow bands are expected to be larger in magnitude and briefer in duration than in broad-band emission, and thus alleviating many of the difficulties with transit detection in broad-band emission. Finally, we point out that it may be possible to discover planetary companions to giant stars using Kepler, provided that a sufficient number of such targets are monitored.

Amongst transit search primary targets there are 4 UMa, HD 122430, HD 13189 and *feels proud* Edasich (Iota Draconis). rabbit

*Emphasis all mine*
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