Meeting of Astrophysics Students at Stanford (MASS): Sean McLaughlin

12:30pm to 1:30pm
Tuesday April 18th, 2017

Advanced Analysis Techniques for Exoplanet Detection in K2

The main phase of the Kepler mission was very successful. Unfortunately a critical reaction wheel became damaged toward the end of its initial mission, and the spacecraft lost a significant degree of pointing precision. It still can collect data and send it to Earth, but that data is plagued by severe systematics. Scientists have developed novel data analysis techniques to search for exoplanets in this \textit{K2} dataset. I will focus in particular on the work of Foreman-Mackey et al 2015 (hereafter FM2015) who developed a particularly interesting and powerful technique. Many planet-finding methods for K2 data focus on first de-trending the "drift" in light-curves, and then searching for planets in those de-trended curves.  FM2015 rightly observe that possible transits in the lightcurves will be absorbed into the fit of pointing drift, diminishing their signal. They instead employ a method that simultaneously fits for systematics and transits. I will summarize the results of the Kepler mission to this point. I will then detail other attempts to make use of K2 data to contextualize the results of FM2015. I will then explain in detail the techniques developed in FM2015 and why they are so powerful as compared to their predecessors.

MASS team Anna, Joe, Warren and Noah

Campus, PAB 214