Transiting Planets and Eclipsing Disks from Small Telescopes

Thursday, 07 July 2016 8 a.m. — 9 a.m. MST

AURA Lecture Hall

NOIRLab South Colloquia
JOSEPH RODRIGUEZ (Postdoctoral Researcher, Vanderbilt University and NOAO South Visiting Astronomer)

With the success of the Kepler mission, the exoplanet field has shifted from pure discovery to a combination of discovery, demographic analysis, and detailed characterization, especially for exoplanet atmospheres. Unfortunately, most of the known transiting extra-solar planets are too faint to permit atmospheric characterization. The Kilodegree Extremely Little Telescope (KELT) project is a photometric survey for transiting planets around bright stars (8 < V < 11), and has discovered 17 planets transiting stars brighter than V ~11 to date.  I will present a few recently discovered planets from the KELT-South survey and discuss their potential for atmospheric characterization. In addition to exoplanet science, KELT provides photometric monitoring of ~3 million stars, presenting the opportunity to perform multi-year studies of stellar variability. Using time-series photometry from KELT we are conducting the Disk Eclipse Search with KELT (DESK) survey to look for disk eclipsing events, specifically in young stellar associations. To date, the survey has discovered and analyzed five previously unknown large dimming events around the stars RW Aurigae, V409 Tau, AA Tau, DM Ori, and TYC 2505-672-1, the latter now representing the longest-period eclipsing object known (period ~ 69 years).  I will describe our results and discuss how we are planning to search for these kinds of objects in future surveys such as LSST.