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Improved Methods for Ground-Based Follow-Up of Young Stars and Planets from the ZEIT Survey

Published onJun 01, 2020
Improved Methods for Ground-Based Follow-Up of Young Stars and Planets from the ZEIT Survey

NASA’s Kepler/K2 and TESS missions have detected thousands of exoplanets. In order for detections to be made at such a large scale, little time can be dedicated to any one target, so ground-based telescopes are crucial for verifying the signals and properties of these objects. Our team has been using Las Cumbres Observatory for a wide range of follow-up observations, including transit photometry of young planets, characterizing young stellar variability, and updating the properties of planets and their hosts. Here we present our work improving the precision and reliability of photometry from the LCO network. We use data from LCO to construct light curves of a variety of targets, including exoplanets, eclipsing binaries, and stars with discs that quasi-periodically block light from their host stars (“dippers”). We fit for multiple atmospheric terms, enabling the extraction of changes in stellar flux of < 0.1%, even on young stars with intrinsic variability of a few percent. We focus our pipeline on better handling younger, redder, and more variable stars, where the selection of comparison stars and the fitting of color terms becomes crucial to the performance of the photometry.

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