UrFU astronomers and their international colleagues are discovering transiting exoplanet candidates

UrFU astronomers and their international colleagues are discovering transiting exoplanet candidates

Press Release (ePRNews.com) - EKATERINBURG, Russian Federation - Jul 20, 2016 - Kourovka Planet Search is a project organized by the scientists of Ural Federal University (Ekaterinburg, Russia), which aims to search for the new transiting extrasolar planets (exoplanets). The astronomers observed areas of the Milky Way in the constellations of Cygnus and Cassiopeia, and the star field in the Ursa Major constellation. KPS-TF3-663 is one of the four transiting exoplanet candidates, and there is a great possibility it may be the first exoplanet discovered in the framework of the Russian project.

“The nature of the eclipsing body can be ascertained conclusively by using radial velocity observations, i.e. by estimating its mass,” said the main participant of the project Artem Burdanov, research engineer at Kourovka astronomical observatory of Ural Federal University.

The observations were performed with the telescope of the MASTER robotic network installed at the Kourovka observatory (Russia), and the Rowe-Ackermann Schmidt Astrograph installed at the private Acton Sky Portal Observatory (USA).

In the four years of the project work the researchers collected about 25 thousand images, of which 17 thousand were taken in the Urals. 39,000 stars brighter than magnitude 14 (for reference: the faintest object imaged by the Hubble Space Telescope has magnitude 31.5, the Sun – 26.7, the full Moon – 12.74) were analyzed. As a result, the astronomers discovered five hundred variable stars, which were previously unknown, and four transiting exoplanet candidates.

According to the scientists, three of them are most likely eclipsing binary stars. The fourth candidate KPS-TF3-663 detected in the Ursa Major constellation will be studied by the means of spectroscopy. At the present stage, the researchers have obtained the following results of study: the transit light curve is U-shaped; there are no other stars in immediate proximity to the system; the spectral type of the star is G8-K1. If the suggested status of KPS-TF3-663 is confirmed, the object will become the first exoplanet discovered in the framework of the Russian project.

As follows from the publication, “another way of improving the probability of detecting transiting exoplanets involves observing a larger number of fields in the sky. In future observation campaigns, we plan to observe three to five fields with the two telescopes every night”.

The study was published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society journal. (http://arxiv.org/abs/1607.01894v1)

Source : Ural Federal University
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