Journal Article

Detecting circumbinary planets using eclipse timing of binary stars – numerical simulations

P. Sybilski, M. Konacki and S. Kozłowski

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 405, issue 1, pages 657-665
Published in print June 2010 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online June 2010 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
Detecting circumbinary planets using eclipse timing of binary stars – numerical simulations

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The presence of a body in an orbit around a close eclipsing binary star manifests itself through the light time effect influencing the observed times of eclipses as both the close binary and the circumbinary companions move around the common centre of mass. This fact combined with the periodicity with which the eclipses occur can be used to detect the companions. Given a sufficient precision of the times of eclipses, the eclipse timing can be employed to detect substellar or even planetary mass companions.

The main goal of this paper is to investigate the potential of the photometry-based eclipse timing of binary stars as a method of detecting circumbinary planets. In the models we assume that the companion orbits a binary star in a circular Keplerian orbit. We analyse both the space- and ground-based photometry cases. In particular, we study the usefulness of the ongoing CoRoT and Kepler missions in detecting circumbinary planets. We also explore the relations binding the planet discovery space with the physical parameters of the binaries and the geometrical parameters of their light curves. We carry out detailed numerical simulations of the eclipse timing by employing a relatively realistic model of the light curves of eclipsing binary stars. We study the influence of the white and red photometric noises on the timing precision. We determine the sensitivity of the eclipse timing technique to circumbinary planets for the ground- and space-based photometric observations. We provide suggestions for the best targets, observing strategies and instruments for the eclipse timing method. Finally, we compare the eclipse timing as a planet detection method with the radial velocities and astrometry.

Keywords: methods: analytical; methods: numerical; techniques: photometric; binaries: eclipsing; planetary systems

Journal Article.  4420 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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