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Survey of Transiting Extrasolar Planets at the University of Pittsburgh

Good, Melanie Lynn (2011) Survey of Transiting Extrasolar Planets at the University of Pittsburgh. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh.

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    Abstract

    In the past two decades, a wealth of planets and planetary candidates orbiting other stars have been discovered and are awaiting more follow-up study to further characterize them. To pursue such follow-up avenues, I recruited a research team of undergraduate collabo- rators for a pro ject we named Survey of Transiting Extrasolar Planets at the University of Pittsburgh (STEPUP). Since its inception in August 2009, STEPUP has investigated both known planets and planetary candidates, making use of the Allegheny Observatory's 16" Meade LX-400 ACF telescope. In total we have taken 90 nights' worth of data, ob- serving 17 stars hosting known or suspected substellar companions. We have been able to confirm transits of known gas giant planets such as XO-2b, TrES-2b, and HD80606b. In fact, our observations of HD806060b contributed to an international ground-based effort to collaboratively observe this long transit, a collaboration which demonstrated the success of coordinating observations across geographical distances. Our transit detections indicate our ability to obtain relative photometric precision of roughly 1%. In addition to studying known transiting planets, STEPUP has worked with the SDSS-III MARVELS team to search for transits of planetary candidates, which, if detected could help confirm the planetary nature of those candidates.


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    Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
    ETD Committee:
    ETD Committee TypeCommittee MemberEmail
    Committee ChairWood-Vasey, W. Michaelwmwv@pitt.edu
    Committee MemberKosowsky, Arthurkosowsky@pitt.edu
    Committee MemberNaples, Donnadnaples@pitt.edu
    Title: Survey of Transiting Extrasolar Planets at the University of Pittsburgh
    Status: Unpublished
    Abstract: In the past two decades, a wealth of planets and planetary candidates orbiting other stars have been discovered and are awaiting more follow-up study to further characterize them. To pursue such follow-up avenues, I recruited a research team of undergraduate collabo- rators for a pro ject we named Survey of Transiting Extrasolar Planets at the University of Pittsburgh (STEPUP). Since its inception in August 2009, STEPUP has investigated both known planets and planetary candidates, making use of the Allegheny Observatory's 16" Meade LX-400 ACF telescope. In total we have taken 90 nights' worth of data, ob- serving 17 stars hosting known or suspected substellar companions. We have been able to confirm transits of known gas giant planets such as XO-2b, TrES-2b, and HD80606b. In fact, our observations of HD806060b contributed to an international ground-based effort to collaboratively observe this long transit, a collaboration which demonstrated the success of coordinating observations across geographical distances. Our transit detections indicate our ability to obtain relative photometric precision of roughly 1%. In addition to studying known transiting planets, STEPUP has worked with the SDSS-III MARVELS team to search for transits of planetary candidates, which, if detected could help confirm the planetary nature of those candidates.
    Date: 14 September 2011
    Date Type: Completion
    Defense Date: 27 July 2011
    Approval Date: 14 September 2011
    Submission Date: 12 August 2011
    Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
    Patent pending: No
    Institution: University of Pittsburgh
    Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
    Refereed: Yes
    Degree: MS - Master of Science
    URN: etd-08122011-222923
    Uncontrolled Keywords: astronomy; exoplanet; extrasolar planet; photometry; planet
    Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Physics
    Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 14:59
    Last Modified: 24 Feb 2012 15:50
    Other ID: http://etd.library.pitt.edu/ETD/available/etd-08122011-222923/, etd-08122011-222923

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