EDP Sciences
Free access
Volume 425, Number 3, October III 2004
Page(s) 1125 - 1131
Section Planets and planetary systems
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20035792

A&A 425, 1125-1131 (2004)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20035792

Using color photometry to separate transiting exoplanets from false positives

B. Tingley

Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics, ANU Cotter Road, Weston, Canberra ACT 2611, Australia
    e-mail: tingley@mso.anu.edu.au

(Received 3 December 2003 / Accepted 2 June 2004)

The radial velocity technique is currently used to classify transiting objects. While capable of identifying grazing binary eclipses, this technique cannot reliably identify blends, a chance overlap of a faint background eclipsing binary with an ordinary foreground star. Blends generally have no observable radial velocity shifts, as the foreground star is brighter by several magnitudes and therefore dominates the spectrum, but their combined light can produce events that closely resemble those produced by transiting exoplanets.

The radial velocity technique takes advantage of the mass difference between planets and stars to classify exoplanet candidates. However, the existence of blends renders this difference an unreliable discriminator. Another difference must therefore be utilized for this classification - the physical size of the transiting body. Due to the dependence of limb darkening on color, planets and stars produce subtly different transit shapes. These differences can be relatively weak, little more than 1/10th the transit depth. However, the presence of even small color differences between the individual components of the blend increases this difference. This paper shows that this color difference is capable of discriminating between exoplanets and blends reliably, theoretically capable of classifying even terrestrial-class transits, unlike the radial velocity technique.

Key words: stars: planetary systems -- occultations -- methods: data analysis

© ESO 2004

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