Monday, April 8, 2013
Astronomy Tea Talk
The Hunt for Exomoons with Kepler (HEK) Project
David Kipping, CfA
The detection of extrasolar moons remains an outstanding challenge in astronomy. One of the most promising methods is to search for evidence of moons around transiting planets, which may reveal themselves through transit timing and/or duration variations along with accompanying moon-like transit events. Armed with Kepler photometry, one may probe down to Earth-sized/mass moons for many candidates and even lower in the best cases. The HEK project seeks to determine the occurrence of large (~Earth-sized) moons around viable planet hosts by regressing transit light curves with a photodynamic moon model using Bayesian multimodal nested sampling. In this talk, I will discuss our methodology and the results from the first batch of candidates analyzed - a sample of seven Neptunes showing no evidence for large moons. I will also discuss how non-transiting planets are a source of false-positives for moon hunting, but are a fascinating signal in their own right with the example of the planets KOI-872b and c detected by our project. Towards to the end of my talk, I will also discuss some current targets under analysis, including Kepler-22b, a confirmed habitable-zone Mini-Neptune.