NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2009B-0110

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Proposal Information for 2009B-0110


PI: Steve B. Howell, NOAO, howell@noao.edu
Address: KPNO, 950 N. Cherry Ave., Tucson, AZ 85726, USA

CoI: Elliott Horch, Southern Connecticut State University
CoI: William Sherry, NSO

Title: Speckle Imaging of Kepler Exo-planet Transit Candidate Stars

Abstract: The NASA Kepler mission was successfully launched on 6 March 2009 and will begin science operations near 1 May. At the present time, commissioning tests are being performed and all spacecraft and science instruments are nominal. Kepler's main science focus is to discover Earth-like exo-planets via photometric transit detection. ``Hot Jupiters" will be found by the hundreds (using current ground-based statistics) but Earth-sized planets (up to 2.5 Earth radii) will be more difficult, yet are the holy grail of the mission. To take the list of candidate transiting planets found by Kepler and move them to probable or certain exo-planet detections, a decision tree of false positive elimination will occur. While earth-sized exo-planets can not currently be confirmed from the ground, many of the false positive eliminations steps can be performed. This proposal aims to obtain high resolution speckle imaging to 1) finish the characterization of ~500 comparison sample stars in the Kepler field of view prior to any transit information as a sample to place planet host stars in context with and to 2) observe Kepler exo-planet transit candidates in order to eliminate the largest false positive contributor in any transit search - background eclipsing binary stars or faint companion stars.


National Optical Astronomy Observatory, 950 North Cherry Avenue, P.O. Box 26732, Tucson, Arizona 85726, Phone: (520) 318-8000, Fax: (520) 318-8360



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