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Unseen Worlds: A Search for Exoplanet Transits of Bright Early-Type Stars

Presentation #403.13 in the session Exoplanet Transits — iPoster Session.

Published onJun 29, 2022
Unseen Worlds: A Search for Exoplanet Transits of Bright Early-Type Stars

Wide-field transit surveys and the radial velocity technique struggle to detect exoplanets around bright, early-type stars. Wide-field transit surveys expose for fainter stars to capture a greater number of targets, but leave bright stars saturated. The radial velocity technique relies on measuring Doppler shifts in a large number of stellar spectral lines. Early-type stars have fewer and broader spectral lines. As a result of these biases, less than a dozen planets have been detected around stars with Vmag<8 and effective temperatures >6,500 K, despite having discovered more than 4500 exoplanets. More discoveries of exoplanets around bright stars would allow for higher signal-to-noise atmospheric characterization. The radiation environment of early-type stars, which is distinctly different than late-type stars, may have a different influence on the evolution of extended and bound planetary atmospheres. To broaden our sample of exoplanet host stars, we utilize Wesleyan University’s 24-inch automated telescope to survey individual early bright stars to search for planet transits. We discuss the initial design and implementation of this long-term program. We explore and simulate the sensitivity of our survey in terms of planet size and orbital period. There likely exists a population of exoplanets around early-type stars that we currently are unaware of. Their detection would be of profound value for many follow-up studies of exoplanets, particularly their atmospheric characterization. We acknowledge the support for this project through the Wesleyan University Summer Research Fellowship and the Undergraduate Research Grant awarded by the NASA Connecticut Space Grant Consortium.

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