AAS 205th Meeting, 9-13 January 2005
Session 18 Eclipsing Binaries and Contact Binaries
Poster, Monday, January 10, 2005, 9:20am-6:30pm, Exhibit Hall

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[18.02] Precision of Times-of-Minima and the Detection of Low-Mass Third Bodies Orbiting Eclipsing Binaries

R. M. Genet (Orion Observatory), T. C. Smith (Dark Ridge Observatory)

Low-mass third bodies orbiting eclipsing binaries are difficult to detect by way of periodic shifts in photometric times-of-minima because the observational precision of these timings are of the same order as the expected effects of any low-mass companions. We are implementing three approaches to increasing the precision of our times-of-minima. First, we are obtaining many times-of-minima by utilizing relatively low-cost, dedicated telescopes and CCD cameras (10- and 14-inch Meade LX-200 telescopes and SBIG ST7-XE cameras). Operating in a semiautomatic mode, we select an eclipsing binary system, based on its placement in the sky, and observe it all night long—usually many nights in a row. We choose binaries with short enough periods to assure us of obtaining a complete light curve (and hence an eclipse) every night we observe. Second, we are striving to increase the photometric precision of each observation through the use of multiple comparison stars (ensemble photometry). We are also, in conjunction with California Polytechnic State University, investigating other ways of increasing the photometric precision of these low-cost systems (see E. Sturm this conference). Finally, we are utilizing complete, as opposed to partial, light curves in our analysis. Information outside primary eclipses is gathered as a matter of course, and its use can improve precision. A total of 186 complete light curves were obtained at the Dark Ridge and Orion Observatories during the 2004 observing season on six eclipsing binaries (TZ Boo, V523 Cas, RW Com, V1191 Cyg, GM Dra, and V400 Lyr). Please see T. Smith and R. Genet (this conference) for preliminary results on V523 Cas (30+ complete light curves).

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: russmgenet@aol.com

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© 2004. The American Astronomical Society.