EDP Sciences
Free access
Volume 437, Number 1, July I 2005
Page(s) 355 - 368
Section Instruments, observational techniques, and data processing
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20042334

A&A 437, 355-368 (2005)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20042334

Comparative blind test of five planetary transit detection algorithms on realistic synthetic light curves

C. Moutou1, F. Pont1, 2, P. Barge1, S. Aigrain3, M. Auvergne4, D. Blouin1, R. Cautain1, A. R. Erikson5, V. Guis1, P. Guterman1, 6, M. Irwin3, A. F. Lanza7, D. Queloz2, H. Rauer5, H. Voss5 and S. Zucker2

1  LAM, Traverse du Siphon, BP 8, Les Trois Lucs, 13376 Marseille Cedex 12, France
    e-mail: Claire.Moutou@oamp.fr
2  Observatoire de Genève, 51 Chemin des Maillettes, 1290 Sauverny, Switzerland
3  Institute of Astronomy (IoA), University of Cambridge, Madingley Road, Cambridge CB3 0HA, UK
4  OPM, Place J. Janssen, 92195 Meudon Cedex, France
5  DLR Institute of Planetary Research, Rutherfordstr. 2, 12489 Berlin, Germany
6  Gemplus Card International, La Ciotat, France
7  INAF - Osservatorio Astrofisico di Catania, via S. Sofia, 78, 95123 Catania, Italy

(Received 8 November 2004 / Accepted 16 February 2005 )

Because photometric surveys of exoplanet transits are very promising sources of future discoveries, many algorithms are being developed to detect transit signals in stellar light curves. This paper compares such algorithms for the next generation of space-based transit detection surveys like CoRoT, Kepler, and Eddington. Five independent analyses of a thousand synthetic light curves are presented. The light curves were produced with an end-to-end instrument simulator and include stellar micro-variability and a varied sample of stellar and planetary transits diluted within a much larger set of light curves. The results show that different algorithms perform quite differently, with varying degrees of success in detecting real transits and avoiding false positives. We also find that the detection algorithm alone does not make all the difference, as the way the light curves are filtered and detrended beforehand also has a strong impact on the detection limit and on the false alarm rate. The microvariability of sun-like stars is a limiting factor only in extreme cases, when the fluctuation amplitudes are large and the star is faint. In the majority of cases it does not prevent detection of planetary transits. The most sensitive analysis is performed with periodic box-shaped detection filters. False positives are method-dependent, which should allow reduction of their detection rate in real surveys. Background eclipsing binaries are wrongly identified as planetary transits in most cases, a result which confirms that contamination by background stars is the main limiting factor. With parameters simulating the CoRoT mission, our detection test indicates that the smallest detectable planet radius is on the order of 2 Earth radii for a 10-day orbital period planet around a K0 dwarf.

Key words: planetary systems -- methods: data analysis -- techniques: photometric -- methods: observational

SIMBAD Objects in preparation

© ESO 2005