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Looking towards the detection of exoearths with SuperWASP

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 September 2006

R.A. Street
Affiliation:
Astrophysics Research Centre, School of Mathematics and Physics, Queen's University, University Road, Belfast, BT7 1NN, UK e-mail: r.street@qub.ac.uk
D.J. Christian
Affiliation:
Astrophysics Research Centre, School of Mathematics and Physics, Queen's University, University Road, Belfast, BT7 1NN, UK e-mail: r.street@qub.ac.uk
W.I. Clarkson
Affiliation:
Department of Physics & Astronomy, The Open University, Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA, UK Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), 3700 San Martin Drive, Baltimore, MD 21218, USA
A.C. Cameron
Affiliation:
School of Physics and Astronomy, University of St. Andrews, North Haugh, St. Andrews, Fife, KY16 9SS, UK
B. Enoch
Affiliation:
Department of Physics & Astronomy, The Open University, Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA, UK
A. Evans
Affiliation:
Department of Physics & Astronomy, The Open University, Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA, UK
A. Fitzsimmons
Affiliation:
Astrophysics Research Centre, School of Mathematics and Physics, Queen's University, University Road, Belfast, BT7 1NN, UK e-mail: r.street@qub.ac.uk
C.A. Haswell
Affiliation:
Department of Physics & Astronomy, The Open University, Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA, UK
C. Hellier
Affiliation:
Astrophysics Group, School of Chemistry & Physics, Keele University, Staffordshire, ST5 5BG, UK
S.T. Hodgkin
Affiliation:
Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge, Madingley Road, Cambridge, CB3 0HA, UK
Keith Horne
Affiliation:
School of Physics and Astronomy, University of St. Andrews, North Haugh, St. Andrews, Fife, KY16 9SS, UK
J. Irwin
Affiliation:
Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge, Madingley Road, Cambridge, CB3 0HA, UK
F.P. Keenan
Affiliation:
Astrophysics Research Centre, School of Mathematics and Physics, Queen's University, University Road, Belfast, BT7 1NN, UK e-mail: r.street@qub.ac.uk
S.R. Kane
Affiliation:
School of Physics and Astronomy, University of St. Andrews, North Haugh, St. Andrews, Fife, KY16 9SS, UK Department of Astronomy, University of Florida, 211 Bryant Space Science Center, Gainesville, FL 32611-2055, USA
T.A. Lister
Affiliation:
School of Physics and Astronomy, University of St. Andrews, North Haugh, St. Andrews, Fife, KY16 9SS, UK Astrophysics Group, School of Chemistry & Physics, Keele University, Staffordshire, ST5 5BG, UK
A.J. Norton
Affiliation:
Department of Physics & Astronomy, The Open University, Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA, UK
J. Osborne
Affiliation:
Department of Physics & Astronomy, University of Leicester, Leicester, LE1 7RH, UK
D. Pollacco
Affiliation:
Astrophysics Research Centre, School of Mathematics and Physics, Queen's University, University Road, Belfast, BT7 1NN, UK e-mail: r.street@qub.ac.uk
R. Ryans
Affiliation:
Astrophysics Research Centre, School of Mathematics and Physics, Queen's University, University Road, Belfast, BT7 1NN, UK e-mail: r.street@qub.ac.uk
I. Skillen
Affiliation:
Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes, Apartado de correos 321, E-38700 Santa Cruz de la Palma, Tenerife, Spain
R.G. West
Affiliation:
Department of Physics & Astronomy, University of Leicester, Leicester, LE1 7RH, UK
P.J. Wheatley
Affiliation:
Department of Physics & Astronomy, University of Leicester, Leicester, LE1 7RH, UK Department of Physics, University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 7AL, UK
D. Wilson
Affiliation:
Astrophysics Group, School of Chemistry & Physics, Keele University, Staffordshire, ST5 5BG, UK

Abstract

The WASP consortium is conducting an ultra-wide field survey of stars between 8–15 mag from both hemispheres. Our primary science goal is to detect extra-solar ‘hot-Jupiter’-type planets that eclipse (or transit) bright host stars and for which further detailed investigation will be possible. We summarize the design of the SuperWASP instruments and describe the first results from our northern station SW-N, sited in La Palma, Canary Islands. Our second station, which began operations this year, is located at the South African Astronomical Observatory. Between April and September, 2004, SW-N continuously observed ~6.7 million stars. The consortium's custom-written, fully automated data reduction pipeline has been used to process these data, and the information is now stored in the project archive, held by the Leicester database and archive service (LEDAS). We have applied a sophisticated, automated algorithm to identify the low-amplitude (~0.01 mag), brief (~few hours) signatures of transiting exoplanets. In addition, we have assessed each candidate in the light of all available catalogue information in order to reject data artefacts and astrophysical false positive detections. The highest priority candidates are currently being subjected to further observations in order to select the true planets. Once the exoplanets are confirmed, a host of exciting opportunities are open to us. In this paper, we describe two techniques that exploit the transits in order to detect other objects within the same system. The first involves determining precise epochs for a sequence of transit events in order to detect the small timing variations caused by the gravitational pull of other planets in the same system. The second method employs ultra-high precision photometry of the transits to detect the deviations caused by the presence of exoplanetary moons. Both of these techniques are capable of detecting objects the size of terrestrial planets.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
2006 Cambridge University Press

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