AAS 198th Meeting, June 2001
Session 86. The Sun, Extrasolar Planets and Dwarf Stars
Oral, Thursday, June 7, 2001, 2:00-3:30pm, C104

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[86.04] Expected results for the number extrasolar planets vs their size and semi-major axis from the Kepler Mission

W. J. Borucki, D. G. Koch (NASA Ames Research Center), J. M. Jenkins (Seti Institute)

The proposed Kepler Mission will use transit photometry to determine the frequency, sizes, and orbital characteristics of terrestrial-size (and larger) planets around a variety of stellar types.  For given distributions of planet size vs semi-major axis, estimates of the frequency of occurrence depend on the noise and the stellar mass. The latter influences the results in three ways. More massive stars are larger and therefore provide smaller signal amplitudes but longer transit durations for a specific orbital period. However, planets orbiting more massive stars at a given distance show more transits during the search period which improves the total signal to noise ratio. Because stars like the Sun (i.e., slowly rotating stars with spots) show a red noise spectrum, the signal detectability is not expected to increase with the square root of the transit duration. Hence the detectability of the pattern of transits is a complex function of the stellar mass, the semi-major axis of the planet, the noise level and its dependence on the transit duration, and the size of the planet. Results of a parametric study are presented to show the expected detection rates as a function of planet size and semi-major axis for both the baseline four-year mission and for an extended six-year mission.

This work was supported by NASA's Origins and Discovery Programs.

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