Colloquium: Dr. Geza KovacsOliver L. Benediktson Endowed Chair for Astrophysics Department of Physics and Astrophysics University of North Dakota Grand Forks, ND
From Tiny Signals to Full-fetched Planets
We describe the often long and difficult procedure from spotting the faint signal of planetary transit to verifying the source of the dimming and ultimately derive the orbital, planetary and stellar parameters. There are many reasons why this task is usually not an easy one. For example, faint, nearby background stellar binary might be blended by our target and mimic planetary transit due to light dilution. High precision spectroscopy is the prime tool to resolve the blend issue and compute planetary mass, but often we encounter problems either because of velocity perturbations caused by stellar activity or simply because the targets are too faint for current spectrographs. In the case of multiple transiting systems, when planet-planet interaction is significant, we can examine the variation of transit timings and decipher masses, and thereby verify the companions as planets. Once the planetary nature of the transiting object is verified, a wide range of follow-up studies can be performed, with a prime focus on the atmospheric structure and search for additional bodies in the system.