EDP Sciences
Free access
Volume 442, Number 2, November I 2005
Page(s) 731 - 744
Section Planets and planetary systems
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20053030

A&A 442, 731-744 (2005)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20053030

On the potential of extrasolar planet transit surveys

M. Gillon1, F. Courbin2, P. Magain1 and B. Borguet1

1  Institut d'Astrophysique et de Géophysique, Université de Liège, Allée du 6 Août, 17, Bat. B5C, Liège 1, Belgium
    e-mail: gillon@astro.ulg.ac.be
2  Laboratoire d'Astrophysique, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Observatoire, 1290 Sauverny, Switzerland

(Received 9 March 2005 / Accepted 20 July 2005)

We analyse the respective benefits and drawbacks of ground-based and space-based transit surveys for extrasolar planets. Based on simple but realistic assumptions about the fraction of lower main sequence stars harboring telluric and giant planets within the outer limit of the habitable zone, we predict the harvests of fictitious surveys with three existing wide field optical and near-IR cameras: the CFHT-Megacam, SUBARU-Suprime and VISTA-IR. An additional promising instrument is considered, VISTA-Vis, currently under development. The results are compared with the harvests predicted under exactly the same assumptions, for the space missions COROT and KEPLER. We show that ground-based wide field surveys may discover more giant planets than space missions. However, space surveys seem to constitute the best strategy to search for telluric planets. In this respect, the KEPLER mission appears 50 times more efficient than any of the ground-based surveys considered here. KEPLER might even discover telluric planets in the habitable zone of their host star.

Key words: astrobiology -- surveys -- techniques: photometric -- stars: planetary systems

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