DPS 35th Meeting, 1-6 September 2003
Session 43. Extra Solar Planets III
Plenary, Organizer: G. Laughlin, Saturday, September 6, 2003, 8:30-10:00am, Steinbeck

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[43.01] Planets in Transit - Passages of Discovery

T.P. Castellano (NASA Ames Research Center)

Eclipses of the Sun have long influenced culture, history, and science. The analogous but much more subtle phenomena of a transit of the Sun by Mercury was first predicted by Johannes Kepler. Soon, predictions of transits of Venus inspired bold expeditions to better understand the scale of our solar system. These passages of discovery sometimes succeeded scientifically but always captured the public imagination and played an unexpected role in history.

The possibility of detecting planets outside the solar system by the transit method was first outlined by Otto Struve in 1952. Early inquiries usually assumed that extrasolar planetary systems would have a distribution of planetary radii and orbital sizes like the solar system. The detection of transits from the ground in such systems would be daunting. The recent, unexpected discovery of a class of extrasolar planets (by the radial velocity technique) with orbital periods less than a week and masses near to the planet Jupiter has resulted in a resurgence of interest in the transit method. These so called "hot Jupiters", can produce transits that are likely enough, frequent enough, the transit method. These so called "hot Jupiters", can produce transits that are likely enough, frequent enough, and deep enough that ground-based transit searches can be successful.

In November 1999, a planet orbiting the star HD 209458 was found to transit, and many measurements of the transit have since been made that challenge formation and evolution theories. Numerous ground based searches for transits are now underway. Several planned high precision space-based missions designed to detect transits of earth-sized planets, also have the potential to detect transits of hundreds of "hot Jupiters". These efforts and the upcoming transit of the Sun by Venus on June 8, 2004 present an opportunity for transits to once again capture the public imagination and perhaps play a role in history.

If you would like more information about this abstract, please follow the link to http://www.ifa.hawaii.edu/tops. This link was provided by the author. When you follow it, you will leave the Web site for this meeting; to return, you should use the Back comand on your browser.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: http://www.transitsearch.org/

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 35 #4
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