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Title: Detecting extrasolar moons akin to solar system satellites with an orbital sampling effect

Abstract

Despite years of high accuracy observations, none of the available theoretical techniques has yet allowed the confirmation of a moon beyond the solar system. Methods are currently limited to masses about an order of magnitude higher than the mass of any moon in the solar system. I here present a new method sensitive to exomoons similar to the known moons. Due to the projection of transiting exomoon orbits onto the celestial plane, satellites appear more often at larger separations from their planet. After about a dozen randomly sampled observations, a photometric orbital sampling effect (OSE) starts to appear in the phase-folded transit light curve, indicative of the moons' radii and planetary distances. Two additional outcomes of the OSE emerge in the planet's transit timing variations (TTV-OSE) and transit duration variations (TDV-OSE), both of which permit measurements of a moon's mass. The OSE is the first effect that permits characterization of multi-satellite systems. I derive and apply analytical OSE descriptions to simulated transit observations of the Kepler space telescope assuming white noise only. Moons as small as Ganymede may be detectable in the available data, with M stars being their most promising hosts. Exomoons with the ten-fold mass of Ganymede andmore » a similar composition (about 0.86 Earth radii in radius) can most likely be found in the available Kepler data of K stars, including moons in the stellar habitable zone. A future survey with Kepler-class photometry, such as Plato 2.0, and a permanent monitoring of a single field of view over five years or more will very likely discover extrasolar moons via their OSEs.« less

Authors:
 [1]
  1. Department of Physics and Astronomy, McMaster University (Canada)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22356883
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Astrophysical Journal; Journal Volume: 787; Journal Issue: 1; Other Information: Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
79 ASTROPHYSICS, COSMOLOGY AND ASTRONOMY; ACCURACY; DATA ANALYSIS; DETECTION; DISTANCE; MASS; MOON; ORBITS; PHOTOMETERS; PHOTOMETRY; PLANETS; RANDOMNESS; SIMULATION; SOLAR SYSTEM; STARS; TELESCOPES; VISIBLE RADIATION

Citation Formats

Heller, René, E-mail: rheller@physics.mcmaster.ca. Detecting extrasolar moons akin to solar system satellites with an orbital sampling effect. United States: N. p., 2014. Web. doi:10.1088/0004-637X/787/1/14.
Heller, René, E-mail: rheller@physics.mcmaster.ca. Detecting extrasolar moons akin to solar system satellites with an orbital sampling effect. United States. doi:10.1088/0004-637X/787/1/14.
Heller, René, E-mail: rheller@physics.mcmaster.ca. 2014. "Detecting extrasolar moons akin to solar system satellites with an orbital sampling effect". United States. doi:10.1088/0004-637X/787/1/14.
@article{osti_22356883,
title = {Detecting extrasolar moons akin to solar system satellites with an orbital sampling effect},
author = {Heller, René, E-mail: rheller@physics.mcmaster.ca},
abstractNote = {Despite years of high accuracy observations, none of the available theoretical techniques has yet allowed the confirmation of a moon beyond the solar system. Methods are currently limited to masses about an order of magnitude higher than the mass of any moon in the solar system. I here present a new method sensitive to exomoons similar to the known moons. Due to the projection of transiting exomoon orbits onto the celestial plane, satellites appear more often at larger separations from their planet. After about a dozen randomly sampled observations, a photometric orbital sampling effect (OSE) starts to appear in the phase-folded transit light curve, indicative of the moons' radii and planetary distances. Two additional outcomes of the OSE emerge in the planet's transit timing variations (TTV-OSE) and transit duration variations (TDV-OSE), both of which permit measurements of a moon's mass. The OSE is the first effect that permits characterization of multi-satellite systems. I derive and apply analytical OSE descriptions to simulated transit observations of the Kepler space telescope assuming white noise only. Moons as small as Ganymede may be detectable in the available data, with M stars being their most promising hosts. Exomoons with the ten-fold mass of Ganymede and a similar composition (about 0.86 Earth radii in radius) can most likely be found in the available Kepler data of K stars, including moons in the stellar habitable zone. A future survey with Kepler-class photometry, such as Plato 2.0, and a permanent monitoring of a single field of view over five years or more will very likely discover extrasolar moons via their OSEs.},
doi = {10.1088/0004-637X/787/1/14},
journal = {Astrophysical Journal},
number = 1,
volume = 787,
place = {United States},
year = 2014,
month = 5
}
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