NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2017B-0046

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Program Information for 2017B-0046


PI: Catherine Huitson, U. of Colorado, Catherine.Huitson@colorado.edu
Address: CASA, 389 UCB, University of Colorado, Boulder, COLORADO 80309

CoI: Jean-Michel Desert, University of Amsterdam
CoI: Tim Brown, U. of Colorado
CoI: Paul A Wilson, IAP

Title: Monitoring Stellar Activity for Exoplanet Hosts: Essential Support for a Gemini Survey Program

Abstract: We propose nightly photometric monitoring of 2 exoplanet host stars with the LCO 1-m network (a continuation of program LCO2016B-009). The proposed program is essential to the success of an accepted Gemini survey, which is the first aimed at the characterization of exoplanet clouds. Since understanding clouds is necessary for measuring exoplanet compositions, this an important step forward in the field of exoplanet science. The Gemini survey will measure scattering signatures in blue optical transmission spectra during multiple observations to determine cloud species. However, while the blue optical is the only spectral region where clouds can be directly detected, it is also the spectral region where stellar activity produces strong signals in transmission. The proposed LCO program is required in order to dis-entangle contaminating stellar signals from true planetary signals. The stellar contribution varies significantly depending on the number of starspots visible, and only independent measurements of the stellar spot level will enable distinction between the two signals. Long-term, frequent, photometric monitoring throughout the Gemini survey is the only way to measure the stellar spot level at the time of each transit event, by allowing us to model the stellar periodicity, spot evolution and estimate the non-spotted stellar brightness. This is the only way to correct the transmission spectra for stellar effects and accurately characterize the planetary cloud species.

Program Type: Standard/LCO

Scheduled Nights:
Run 1 (2017B):  LCO-1m/Sinistro -- 25hrs


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