Investigating Signs of Orbital Decay in an Exoplanetary System


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Transit observations of exoplanetary systems can be used to investigate orbital decay. TrES-1b is an exoplanet hypothesized to be experiencing orbital decay due to an apparently decreasing orbital period. Many transits need to be observed to establish a long-term pattern to determine if the planet’s orbit is decaying. My measurements were made using the telescope in the UNH Observatory where I observed transits of the TrES-1 system. A CCD camera was used to image the transit and take calibration images. The software AstroImageJ (AIJ) was used to calibrate the images and perform photometry to generate a brightness plot (light curve) for the star through the duration of the transit observation. The center of the transit can be found from the light curve and is plotted with transit centers from many other transits to determine if an orbital decay model best fits the data. The data from the transits I observed yielded inconclusive results because AIJ was unable to fit a light curve to the data and thus unable to find the transit center. The largest sources of error are clouds covering the star during the transit and improper telescope tracking. Understanding these sources of error allows their effects to be mitigated in future data collection.


First Name Last Name
Amanda Wester

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Submission Details

Conference URC
Event Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering (ISE)
Department Physics (ISE)
Group Theory, Modeling and Data Analysis
Added April 18, 2022, 11:57 p.m.
Updated April 18, 2022, 11:57 p.m.
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