2020 Sagan Exoplanet Summer Workshop

Hands-on Sessions

From Pixels to Planets: Finding Planets in Radial Velocity Data

The radial velocity technique of exoplanet detection was used to detect most of the first ~1000 exoplanets discovered. While missions relying on the transit technique have surpassed radial velocities in the ability to detect the smallest planets, the radial velocity technique is still critical to measure masses and gain insight into the composition of these planets. Future missions like the James Webb Space Telescope will rely on precise planetary masses to interpret atmospheric spectra and to constrain the molecular composition of those atmospheres. Furthermore, provided the stellar noise sources can be mitigated, radial velocities can unveil terrestrial planets at periods where the transit probability is very low.

At this workshop participants will gain hands-on experience in the full process of extracting precision radial velocities from high-resolution spectra. They will measure velocities using the cross-correlation technique, search for the periodic signatures of orbiting planets, and measure the orbital and physical characteristics of planetary systems. Different datasets of high-quality spectroscopic data will be provided to several small groups. The participants will first learn how to apply the cross-correlation technique to measure radial velocities and construct a time series. They will then search for planets using a periodogram analysis by building their own simple periodogram and then learning about some of the more advanced publicly available periodogram tools. Finally, they will model the periodic signals in the time series, learn how to distinguish between planetary signals and stellar variability, and extract precise planetary masses for planets detected in each dataset.


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(last updated February 20th, 2020 08:32:49)