707 research outputs found

### The Detectability of Transit Depth Variations due to Exoplanetary Oblateness and Spin Precession

Knowledge of an exoplanet's oblateness and obliquity would give clues about
its formation and internal structure. In principle, a light curve of a
transiting planet bears information about the planet's shape, but previous work
has shown that the oblateness-induced signal will be extremely difficult to
detect. Here we investigate the potentially larger signals due to planetary
spin precession. The most readily detectable effects are transit depth
variations (T$\delta$V) in a sequence of light curves. For a planet as oblate
as Jupiter or Saturn, the transit depth will undergo fractional variations of
order 1%. The most promising systems are those with orbital periods of
approximately 15--30 days, which is short enough for the precession period to
be less than about 40 years, and long enough to avoid spin-down due to tidal
friction. The detectability of the T$\delta$V signal would be enhanced by moons
(which would decrease the precession period) or planetary rings (which would
increase the amplitude). The Kepler mission should find several planets for
which precession-induced T$\delta$V signals will be detectable. Due to modeling
degeneracies, Kepler photometry would yield only a lower bound on oblateness.
The degeneracy could be lifted by observing the oblateness-induced asymmetry in
at least one transit light curve, or by making assumptions about the planetary
interior.Comment: Accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journa

### Analytic Approximations for Transit Light Curve Observables, Uncertainties, and Covariances

The light curve of an exoplanetary transit can be used to estimate the
planetary radius and other parameters of interest. Because accurate parameter
estimation is a non-analytic and computationally intensive problem, it is often
useful to have analytic approximations for the parameters as well as their
uncertainties and covariances. Here we give such formulas, for the case of an
exoplanet transiting a star with a uniform brightness distribution. We also
assess the advantages of some relatively uncorrelated parameter sets for
fitting actual data. When limb darkening is significant, our parameter sets are
still useful, although our analytic formulas underpredict the covariances and
uncertainties.Comment: 33 pages, 14 figure

### Quasiequilibrium sequences of black-hole--neutron-star binaries in general relativity

We construct quasiequilibrium sequences of black hole-neutron star binaries
for arbitrary mass ratios by solving the constraint equations of general
relativity in the conformal thin-sandwich decomposition. We model the neutron
star as a stationary polytrope satisfying the relativistic equations of
hydrodynamics, and account for the black hole by imposing equilibrium boundary
conditions on the surface of an excised sphere (the apparent horizon). In this
paper we focus on irrotational configurations, meaning that both the neutron
star and the black hole are approximately nonspinning in an inertial frame. We
present results for a binary with polytropic index n=1, mass ratio
M_{irr}^{BH}/M_{B}^{NS}=5 and neutron star compaction
M_{ADM,0}^{NS}/R_0=0.0879, where M_{irr}^{BH} is the irreducible mass of the
black hole, M_{B}^{NS} the neutron star baryon rest-mass, and M_{ADM,0}^{NS}
and R_0 the neutron star Arnowitt-Deser-Misner mass and areal radius in
isolation, respectively. Our models represent valid solutions to Einstein's
constraint equations and may therefore be employed as initial data for
dynamical simulations of black hole-neutron star binaries.Comment: 5 pages, 1 figure, revtex4, published in Phys.Rev.

### Quasiequilibrium black hole-neutron star binaries in general relativity

We construct quasiequilibrium sequences of black hole-neutron star binaries
in general relativity. We solve Einstein's constraint equations in the
conformal thin-sandwich formalism, subject to black hole boundary conditions
imposed on the surface of an excised sphere, together with the relativistic
equations of hydrostatic equilibrium. In contrast to our previous calculations
we adopt a flat spatial background geometry and do not assume extreme mass
ratios. We adopt a Gamma=2 polytropic equation of state and focus on
irrotational neutron star configurations as well as approximately nonspinning
black holes. We present numerical results for ratios of the black hole's
irreducible mass to the neutron star's ADM mass in isolation of
M_{irr}^{BH}/M_{ADM,0}^{NS} = 1, 2, 3, 5, and 10. We consider neutron stars of
baryon rest mass M_B^{NS}/M_B^{max} = 83% and 56%, where M_B^{max} is the
maximum allowed rest mass of a spherical star in isolation for our equation of
state. For these sequences, we locate the onset of tidal disruption and, in
cases with sufficiently large mass ratios and neutron star compactions, the
innermost stable circular orbit. We compare with previous results for black
hole-neutron star binaries and find excellent agreement with third-order
post-Newtonian results, especially for large binary separations. We also use
our results to estimate the energy spectrum of the outgoing gravitational
radiation emitted during the inspiral phase for these binaries.Comment: 17 pages, 15 figures, published in Phys. Rev.

### Parameter Estimation from Time-Series Data with Correlated Errors: A Wavelet-Based Method and its Application to Transit Light Curves

We consider the problem of fitting a parametric model to time-series data
that are afflicted by correlated noise. The noise is represented by a sum of
two stationary Gaussian processes: one that is uncorrelated in time, and
another that has a power spectral density varying as $1/f^\gamma$. We present
an accurate and fast [O(N)] algorithm for parameter estimation based on
computing the likelihood in a wavelet basis. The method is illustrated and
tested using simulated time-series photometry of exoplanetary transits, with
particular attention to estimating the midtransit time. We compare our method
to two other methods that have been used in the literature, the time-averaging
method and the residual-permutation method. For noise processes that obey our
assumptions, the algorithm presented here gives more accurate results for
midtransit times and truer estimates of their uncertainties.Comment: Accepted in ApJ. Illustrative code may be found at
http://www.mit.edu/~carterja/code/ . 17 page

### A Prograde, Low-Inclination Orbit for the Very Hot Jupiter WASP-3b

We present new spectroscopic and photometric observations of the transiting
exoplanetary system WASP-3. Spectra obtained during two separate transits
exhibit the Rossiter-McLaughlin (RM) effect and allow us to estimate the
sky-projected angle between the planetary orbital axis and the stellar rotation
axis, lambda = 3.3^{+2.5}_{-4.4} degrees. This alignment between the axes
suggests that WASP-3b has a low orbital inclination relative to the equatorial
plane of its parent star. During our first night of spectroscopic measurements,
we observed an unexpected redshift briefly exceeding the expected sum of the
orbital and RM velocities by 140 m/s. This anomaly could represent the
occultation of material erupting from the stellar photosphere, although it is
more likely to be an artifact caused by moonlight scattered into the
spectrograph.Comment: 23 pages, 4 figures, Accepted for publication in The Astrophysical
Journal, Replacement includes revised citation

### Improved spectroscopic parameters for transiting planet hosts

We report homogeneous spectroscopic determinations of the effective temperature, metallicity, and projected rotational velocity for the host stars of 56 transiting planets. Our analysis is based primarily on the stellar parameter classification (SPC) technique. We investigate systematic errors by examining subsets of the data with two other methods that have often been used in previous studies (Spectroscopy Made Easy (SME) and MOOG). The SPC and SME results, both based on comparisons between synthetic spectra and actual spectra, show strong correlations between T [subscript eff], [Fe/H], and log g when solving for all three quantities simultaneously. In contrast the MOOG results, based on a more traditional curve-of-growth approach, show no such correlations. To combat the correlations and improve the accuracy of the temperatures and metallicities, we repeat the SPC analysis with a constraint on log g based on the mean stellar density that can be derived from the analysis of the transit light curves. Previous studies that have not taken advantage of this constraint have been subject to systematic errors in the stellar masses and radii of up to 20% and 10%, respectively, which can be larger than other observational uncertainties, and which also cause systematic errors in the planetary mass and radius

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