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Using TESS Data to Search for Transiting Exoplanets Around White Dwarfs

Presentation #134.05 in the session “Exoplanets with TESS”.

Published onJan 11, 2021
Using TESS Data to Search for Transiting Exoplanets Around White Dwarfs

White dwarfs are the end state of all low mass stars, including our Sun. Theory suggests that some planets should be able to survive their host star’s transition to the white dwarf state, however there have been only three detected planetary systems transiting around white dwarfs. Using data from Sectors 1-25 of the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), we searched 1411 white dwarfs for exoplanets orbiting at a period less than 2.31 days, a threshold chosen to avoid systematic variations in fainter TESS targets. We found four white dwarfs that showed promising variability indicating a possible exoplanet transit when initially analyzed: TIC 194303300 observed in Sector 17, TIC 453828065 observed in Sector 4, TIC 333527240 observed in Sector 19, and TIC 394131772 observed in Sectors 14, 15, and 16. However, upon further evaluation, we discovered that background eclipsing binaries are the likely source of variability, and therefore we have not confirmed any new planets around white dwarfs in the analyzed TESS Sectors. This project was supported in part by the NSF REU grant AST-1757321, by the Nantucket Maria Mitchell Association, and by the Massachusetts Space Grant.

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