Optimal placement of a limited number of observations for period searches
School of Physics, University of Exeter, Stocker Road, EX4 4QL, UK e-mail: [saunders,timn,aa]@astro.ex.ac.uk
Accepted: 13 April 2006
Robotic telescopes present the opportunity for the sparse temporal placement of observations when period searching. We address the best way to place a limited number of observations to cover the dynamic range of frequencies required by an observer. We show that an observation distribution geometrically spaced in time can minimise aliasing effects arising from sparse sampling, substantially improving signal detection quality. The base of the geometric series is however a critical factor in the overall success of this strategy. Further, we show that for such an optimal distribution observations may be reordered, as long as the distribution of spacings is preserved, with almost no loss of quality. This implies that optimal observing strategies can retain significant flexibility in the face of scheduling constraints, by providing scope for on-the-fly adaptation. Finally, we present optimal geometric samplings for a wide range of common observing scenarios, with an emphasis on practical application by the observer at the telescope. Such a sampling represents the best practical empirical solution to the undersampling problem that we are aware of. The technique has applications to robotic telescope and satellite observing strategies, where target acquisition overheads mean that a greater total target exposure time (and hence signal-to-noise) can often in practice be achieved by limiting the number of observations.
Key words: methods: observational / methods: data analysis / techniques: photometric / techniques: radial velocities
© ESO, 2006