Colloquium: Dr. Geza KovacsOliver L. Benediktson Endowed Chair for Astrophysics Department of Physics and Astrophysics University of North Dakota Grand Forks, ND
Needles and Haystacks
From the many astronomical associations the title may imply, I pick one and discuss the first step (candidate discovery) in transiting extrasolar planet search. Here we look for small periodic dimming in long photometric time series, usually gathered by dedicated sky monitoring programs staring at the same large field for a long period of time (from several months to years). In addition to the obvious rare occurrence of transiting planets, the signals associated with them are often difficult to find because they are shallow and of short duration (opposite to Fourier signals). In addition, they sit in a noisy environment with various systematics, often dominating the observed signal. I describe the methods that are widely used and have been proven to be very successful over the years in filtering out the systematics and finding the signal.