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Session 62 - Workshop on the Future of Antarctic Astrophysics - II.
Topical, Oral session, Wednesday, June 10

[62.23] Detection of Extrasolar Planets by Transit Photometry in the Antarctic

W. J. Borucki, D. G. Koch, J. J. Lissauer (NASA Ames Research Center), T. M. Brown (NCAR, High Altitude Obs.), J. M. Jenkins (SETI Inst.), E. T. Dunham (Lowell Obs.)

The recent discovery by the Doppler velocity technique that approximately 2% to 3% of the solar-like stars possess giant planets demonstrates that ground-based detection of extrasolar planets is feasible. Photometric detection of transits can provide the size of planetary companions and determine both orbital period and inclination angle. Subsequent Doppler velocity measurements can then estimate the mass since the inclination angle is known. The combination of mass and size allows the density of these objects to be determined. These data can then be used to compare with theoretical predictions of the inflation of a planet's atmosphere as a function of its distance from the primary. Follow on observations at major observatories using high resolution spectrographs can be made to determine the spectral class and metallicity of the stars found to have planets so that correlations with these quantities and the frequency of planets and their orbital radii can be investigated.

Only a small aperture (i.e., 10 cm to 30 cm), wide-field-of-view telescope with a CCD detector and several weeks of continuous observation are required to detect planets around a variety of stars. By observing approximately 4,000 stars continuously, approximately four giant inner planets (like 51 Peg b) with orbital periods near 4 days should be discovered each month; i.e. approximately 16 planets during the four month winter period in Antarctica. The availability of continuous observing would dramatically improve the yield of searches now being conducted at other locations in the presence of day/night cycles.

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