PI: Steve B. Howell, NOAO, email@example.com
Address: KPNO, 950 N. Cherry Ave., Tucson, AZ 85726, US
CoI: Elliott Horch, Southern Connecticut State University
CoI: Mark Everett, NOAO
Title: Speckle Imaging of Kepler Exoplanet Candidate Host Stars
Abstract: The NASA Kepler space mission is dedicated to the detection of exoplanets. The prime science goal is to find Earth-sized planets (<3 Earth radii) in approximate year-long orbits. Kepler uses the photometric transit method and is performing well with nominal operation of the spacecraft, telescopes, electronics, and instruments. As with ground-based surveys, Kepler candidates need to be screened for background eclipsing binary stars, triples, and other confounding issues which, when photometrically blended with the primary target, can mimic exoplanetary transits. The list of candidate transiting planets found by Kepler requires follow-up to ascertain probable or certain exoplanet detection. While Earth-sized exoplanets can not currently (easily) be confirmed from the ground and for some RVs will not be forthcoming, many of the false positive eliminations steps can be performed by ground- based observations coupled with the Kepler data itself. Follow-up for Kepler exoplanet candidates is now aimed at Neptune-size and smaller planets in longer period orbits. This proposal aims to obtain high resolution speckle imaging to observe Kepler exoplanet transit candidates in order to find any close companion stars and eliminate the largest false positive contributor in any transit search - (background) eclipsing binary stars or variable 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