English (United States)
The Wesleyan Transiting Exoplanet Program (WesTEP) has been initiated to utilize the 24-inch Perkin Telescope at Wesleyan University's Van Vleck Observatory to observe the transits of extrasolar planets. In particular, I focus on transit timing in order to search for transit timing variations (TTVs) and to refine the periods of newly-discovered planets. I conduct a variety of tests in order to maximize the photometric precision of the data, including the use of manual guiding (as no autoguiding is currently available) and defocusing; the polar alignment of the telescope is also corrected. I have observed nearly two dozen transits, including six for one planet, WASP-33b, and two transits each for four other planets. Several different data fitting and error analysis packages are considered in detail in order to determine which is the most accurate. Two planets show preliminary evidence for possible nonlinear TTVs, while we have refined the orbital periods of two other planets.
Johnson, Marshall Caleb, "The Shadows of Distant Worlds: Exoplanetary Transit Timing Using the Perkin Telescope" (2011). Honors Theses - All. Paper 661.
Available for download on Monday, April 15, 2013
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