PI: Steve B. Howell, NASA ARC, firstname.lastname@example.org
Address: Astrophysics, P.O. Box 1 M/S 244-30, Moffett Field, CA 94035, US
CoI: Elliott Horch, Southern Connecticut State University
CoI: Mark Everett, NOAO
CoI: David Ciardi, Caltech / NexSci
Title: High-resolution Speckle Imaging of Kepler Exoplanet Host Stars - Validation of Earth-size, Habitable Zone Exoplanets
Abstract: We propose to utilize our speckle imaging instrument on the Gemini- North 8-m telescope to obtain high spatial resolution imaging of Kepler planetary candidate systems that host planets smaller than 1.5 R_earth. The high contrast images afforded by the speckle camera on Gemini-North, resolution to 0.02 arc-sec and (Delta)mag to 10, in conjunction with the Kepler data, will allow us to fully validate ~100 Kepler systems with earth-sized planets or smaller in or near the habitable zone independently of any other follow-up data. Additionally, we will provide unique information on the binary fraction of solar-like stars due to our speckle images reaching to ~10 AU separations, the RV determined peak of solar-type binary separations. Our speckle+Gemini-N observations will serve to not only validate the many Earth-like exoplanets in long period orbits and assess the binary fraction of the Kepler planet host stars, we will also re-determine the planetary radii in some cases after taking into account blending by physically associated or co-aligned stars. Gemini-N speckle imaging will detect possible blends that, if unaccounted for, can affect the measured planet sizes or could suggest a false positive in the form of a faint eclipsing binary blended with the target star.
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