Volume 556, August 2013
|Number of page(s)||5|
|Section||Planets and planetary systems|
|Published online||18 July 2013|
Effect of stellar spots on high-precision transit light-curve
1 Centro de Astrofísica, Universidade do Porto, Rua das Estrelas, 4150-762 Porto, Portugal
2 Departamento de Física e Astronomia, Faculdade de Ciências, Universidade do Porto, Rua do Campo Alegre, 4169-007 Porto, Portugal
3 Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, University of Chicago, 5640 South Ellis Avenue, Chicago, IL 60637, USA
4 Observatoire de Genève, Université de Genève, 51 chemin des Maillettes, 1290 Sauverny, Switzerland
5 Institute for Astronomy and NASA Astrobiology Institute, University of Hawaii-Manoa, 2680 Woodlawn Drive, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA
Received: 18 February 2013
Accepted: 4 June 2013
Stellar-activity features such as spots can complicate the determination of planetary parameters through spectroscopic and photometric observations. The overlap of a transiting planet and a stellar spot, for instance, can produce anomalies in the transit light-curves that may lead to an inaccurate estimation of the transit duration, depth, and timing. These inaccuracies can for instance affect the precise derivation of the planet radius. We present the results of a quantitative study on the effects of stellar spots on high-precision transit light-curves. We show that spot anomalies can lead to an estimate of a planet radius that is 4% smaller than the real value. Likewise, the transit duration may be estimated about 4%, longer or shorter. Depending on the size and distribution of spots, anomalies can also produce transit-timing variations (TTVs) with significant amplitudes. For instance, TTVs with signal amplitudes of 200 s can be produced when the spot is completely dark and has the size of the largest Sun spot. Our study also indicates that the smallest size of a stellar spot that still has detectable effects on a high-precision transit light-curve is around 0.03 time the stellar radius for typical Kepler Telescope precision. We also show that the strategy of including more free parameters (such as transit depth and duration) in the fitting procedure to measure the transit time of each individual transit will not produce accurate results for active stars.
Key words: planets and satellites: detection / planetary systems / methods: numerical / stars: activity / techniques: photometric
© ESO, 2013
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