NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2011B-0048

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Proposal Information for 2011B-0048


PI: Steve B. Howell, NASA Ames Research Center, howell@noao.edu
Address: Astrophysics, P.O. Box 1 M/S 244-30, Moffett Field, CA 94035, US

CoI: Mark Everett, NOAO
CoI: Elliott Horch, Southern Connecticut State University
CoI: David Ciardi, CalTech/NexSci

Title: Speckle and Lucky 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 (<1.25 Earth radii) in the habitable zone. 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 exoplanet transits. While Earth-sized exoplanets, esp. those in long period orbits, can not currently be confirmed from the ground and for some, RVs will not be forthcoming, 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 Super- earth and earth-size planets and the highest priority need for ground- based follow-up is high resolution optical imaging. Verification of terrestrial-size planets will mainly be done via elimination of all other causes to some high (99.5+%) level. Kepler image data (centroiding and difference images) combined with hi-res imaging and detailed blend models will comprise the prime tool for false positive elimination. This proposal aims to obtain high resolution imaging of Kepler exoplanet transit candidates in order to find any spatially close companion stars and eliminate the largest false positive contributor in any transit search - (background) eclipsing binary stars or variable faint companion stars.


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