Tag Archives: K2

WASP and Kepler K2

WASP-85 is a binary star, with the hot Jupiter WASP-85Ab orbiting the brighter star of the pair. It was in the Campaign 1 field of the revamped Kepler K2 mission, and thus we have the first extensive Kepler-quality lightcurve of a WASP planetary system.

K2 light curve of WASP-85

The WASP discovery paper by David Brown et al presents an initial look at the long-cadence K2 data. The upper plot shows the entire light curve, with obvious variability of the star (presumably because it is magnetically active) and narrow dips caused by the transits. The lower plot shows the data folded on the transit.

K2 light curve of WASP-85 transit

The higher-time-resolution “short cadence” data will be available soon, and should allow a high-quality analysis of this system. The WASP planets WASP-47b and WASP-75b are being observed in the current K2 Campaign 3, which should lead to more space-quality light curves of WASP systems.

In other news, WASP played a minor role in the discovery of the first K2 planet, a super-Earth-sized planet orbiting the bright K-dwarf star HIP 116454. There is extensive WASP data on this star, and while the transits (only 0.1% deep) are too shallow to see in WASP data, the WASP data contribute by showing a possible 16-day rotation period of the host star. The discovery paper by Andrew Vanderburg et al featured in a NASA press release.

The grazing transit of WASP-67b

The hot-Jupiter exoplanet WASP-67b is a curiosity, being the only known exoplanet with a grazing transit, such that not all of the planet transits the host-star’s disc. This means that the characteristic “second contact” and “third contact” points are missing from the transit lightcurves. These are the points where, usually, the whole planet is now in front of the star, and the transit is then flat-bottomed, apart from the relatively small effects of stellar “limb darkening”.

The four "contact" points of a planetary transit, illustrated for Mercury transiting our Sun.

The four “contact” points of a planetary transit, illustrated for Mercury transiting our Sun.

In WASP-67b’s grazing transit the planet is never completely in transit and thus the transit lightcurve has a continuously varying V shape. The grazing nature of WASP-67b was confirmed by a detailed study of new transit lightcurves by Mancini et al (2014), who used the GROND instrument on ESO’s 2.2-m telescope at the La Silla observatory.

The transit of WASP-67b from Mancini et al. (2014)

The transit of WASP-67b from Mancini et al. (2014)

The lack of second and third contact makes the system parameters hard to tie down, and thus obtaining a secure estimate of the planet’s radius and density requires Mancini et al’s high-quality lightcurves. WASP-67 is also notable for being in one of the target fields of the revamped Kepler spacecraft’s K2 mission, and thus we can expect ongoing detailed study of this system.

NASA’s Kepler looks at a WASP planet

NASA’s Kepler planet-hunting mission is entering the “K2” phase of its life. The loss of reaction wheels and thus pointing stability mean that it couldn’t continue looking at the original Kepler field, but Kepler engineers have worked out that it can point to fields in the ecliptic by using the pressure of the Sun’s light to stablise the spacecraft.

Kepler's transit of WASP-28b

Kepler’s transit of WASP-28b

In engineering observations to test his concept Kepler pointed at WASP-28b, a hot-Jupiter planet previously found by WASP-South. The lightcurve from a short test in Jan 2014 shows that Kepler is working well and can still detect planets.

Several more WASP planets, incuding WASP-47b, WASP-67b, WASP-75b and WASP-85b are in planned Kepler-2 fields, promising high-quality Kepler lightcurves to really nail down the masses and radii of these planets.