Kepler Live Pool

NASA's planet hunter mission ought to be announcing something at the American Astronomical Society in january, 2010.
But what?

Ah, well, I don't know, and if I knew I wouldn't be telling.

We have some idea of what Kepler could do, based on the cleanliness of the early release result photometry.
But, we don't know what they actually found, or how fast and thorough the followup confirmations might have been.

There is a definite buzz in the air though, a sense of anticipation that the Kepler team will deliver big at the AAS.

So, shamelessly stealing a good idea from a good graduate student, we will rely on the collective wisdom of the anonymous crowds:

What do you think Kepler found?

  • How many candidate planets will be announced by the Kepler team at the AAS?
  • How many confirmed planets?
  • What will be the highest mass, and lowest mass planet?
  • What will be the shortest orbital period, and what will be the longest orbital period?
  • What will be the largest planetary radius, and what will be the smallest planetary radius?
  • Will there be any planets announced in a potential "habitable zone"?
    If so, what class primary, and how low mass a planet?

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I don't know the answers to your questions, and my guesses would be noise.

But I do have a question of my own: what is a 'confirmed planet'?

CoRoT-7b had two papers a few months apart: one that ruled out everything except a planet (to some level of confidence), and another that reported HARPS RV confirmation with massive resource use.

Will Kepler just create a logjam of things that are more than candidates, but await the RV telescope time, or are even RV-indetectable for now?

My money is on an exomoon detection. It's the one big goal that the transit surveys haven't coughed up yet, and Kepler would have enough cadence on a short period giant planet to nail it down.

Word is that they won't release any information unless it has been accepted for publication already. These papers are being submitted soon, and so that leaves only 6 months of transits. If you want to include detailed RV follow up, I say the period has to be less than 1 month. For habitability, this leaves stars a bit more massive than M-dwarfs.

My Guesses:

20 Candidates.

20 Confirmed.

The highest mass 'planet' will be lots of brown dwarfs.

The lowest mass will be constrained to be smaller than 5 M_e.

1(+1)(-10) Planets in habitable zone.

I'm going to go with the pessimistic answer: the first batch will be a bunch of hot Jupiters, plus a couple of hints of more interesting stuff they're still in the process of analysing but haven't yet confirmed.

Yes those were the abstracts I was basing the pessimistic prediction on... annoyingly enough, direct links into don't work, you have to go through the main page for the conference.

Although I don't expect anything but hot jupiters/neptunes (for now), I hope for exciting new studies done with those planets. Maybe some asteroseismology of TrES-3, HAT-P-7, and HAT-P-11. Maybe they'll be able to measure the albedo of a couple of the new Kepler planets.

I bet a lot of the buzz is about stuff they won't be able to talk about until well after January.

My bet is on reproducing what Spitzer has done, namely reconstructing albedo changes as a function of orbit phase. This should be easy enough to do with Kepler and we've already seen a hint of it in the early press release data--plus it makes for good pictures. Maybe an exo-Red Spot?

Spitzer measured changes in planet thermal emission (it observes in the infrared where thermal emission vastly exceeds the reflected light). To my knowledges, noone has reliably measured planetary albedo.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe there's evidence of reflected light in the Kepler curves I've seen. You're right that Spitzer did thermal emission, should have been clearer...

lol, if nature is so simple then one has no need to even observe the planets :)

of course :) You make an interesting point though!
have you worked out what sort of approximate constraints you can place on the albedo via the Spitzer infrared constraints on E? who knows, maybe this has been covered in some S. Seager (or someone else) paper that I should have read more closely.

Sadly A(f1) != A(f2) and we're mostly interested in albedos in the optical and see emissivities in the infrared...
Can't do much about that unless the chemistry information from the IR is enough to constrain the optical indirectly - even then you don't know if the optical photosphere is above the IR, and there could be some funky oxide or some crap that doesn't show up in IR but is nice and white in the optical, even in relative trace amounts.

Heck, we can't even reconstruct albedo and emissivities of high altitude water vapour clouds on Earth in the optical vs IR.

I was thinking along the lines of fitting a simplistic model of E to the IR measurements, then (integral of E over f)= (integral of A over f), then R=1-A. Unfortunately, it seems the issues that you've raised would give doubts to such a plan.

Heard that Kepler detected a planet in an eclipsing binary system...

By Dunkleosteus (not verified) on 18 Nov 2009 #permalink

Won't optical generally be below IR?

For the pool: 42 candidates
5 confirmed
largest = Brown Dwarf limit
smallest = 1 Venus mass
largest radius=1.5 rJ
smallest = 1 venus
no moons
no rings
longest period = 30 days, shortest less than one stellar radius above the photosphere.
1 candidate M dwarf 'habitable' planet less than 10,000km radius, but with moderate to high eccentricity, putting apastron or periastron out of the 'zone.

Several candidate "habitable zone" neptunes and jupiters, also around M dwarves, but without moons.