Volume 636, April 2020
|Number of page(s)||18|
|Section||Planets and planetary systems|
|Published online||20 April 2020|
Mitigating flicker noise in high-precision photometry
I. Characterization of the noise structure, impact on the inferred transit parameters, and predictions for CHEOPS observations
Space Research Institute, Austrian Academy of Sciences,
2 Aix Marseille Univ., CNRS, CNES, LAM, Marseille, France
3 Observatoire de l’Université de Genève, 51 chemin des Maillettes, 1290 Sauverny, Switzerland
4 Institute of Physics, University of Graz, Universitätsplatz 5, 8010 Graz, Austria
5 Kanzelhöhe Observatory for Solar and Environmental Research, University of Graz, Kanzelhöhe 19, 9521 Treffen, Austria
6 Space sciences, Technologies and Astrophysics Research (STAR) Institute, Université de Liège, 19C Allée du six-août, 4000 Liège, Belgium
Accepted: 9 March 2020
Context. In photometry, the short-timescale stellar variability (“flicker”), such as that caused by granulation and solar-like oscillations, can reach amplitudes comparable to the transit depth of Earth-sized planets and is correlated over the typical transit timescales. It can introduce systematic errors on the inferred planetary parameters when a small number of transits are observed.
Aims. The objective of this paper is to characterize the statistical properties of the flicker noise and quantify its impact on the inferred transit parameters.
Methods. We used the extensive solar observations obtained with SoHO/VIRGO to characterize flicker noise. We simulated realistic transits across the solar disk using SDO/HMI data and used these to obtain transit light curves, which we used to estimate the errors made on the transit parameters due to the presence of real solar noise. We make these light curves publicly available. To extend the study to a wider parameter range, we derived the properties of flicker noise using Kepler observations and studied their dependence on stellar parameters. Finally, we predicted the limiting stellar apparent magnitude for which the properties of the flicker noise can be extracted using high-precision CHEOPS and PLATO observations.
Results. Stellar granulation is a stochastic colored noise, and is stationary with respect to the stellar magnetic cycle. Both the flicker correlation timescales and amplitudes increase with the stellar mass and radius. If these correlations are not taken into account when fitting for the parameters of transiting exoplanets, this can bias the inferred parameters. In particular, we find errors of up to 10% on the ratio between the planetary and stellar radius (Rp∕Rs) for an Earth-sized planet orbiting a Sun-like star.
Conclusions. Flicker will significantly affect the inferred parameters of transits observed at high precision with CHEOPS and PLATO for F and G stars. Dedicated modeling strategies need to be developed to accurately characterize both the star and the transiting exoplanets.
Key words: techniques: photometric / planetary systems / stars: activity / Sun: granulation / methods: statistical
© ESO 2020
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