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Physics  2010 

EXOTIME: searching for planets around pulsating subdwarf B stars

DOI: 10.1007/s10509-010-0356-4

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Abstract:

In 2007, a companion with planetary mass was found around the pulsating subdwarf B star V391 Pegasi with the timing method, indicating that a previously undiscovered population of substellar companions to apparently single subdwarf B stars might exist. Following this serendipitous discovery, the EXOTIME (http://www.na.astro.it/~silvotti/exotime/) monitoring program has been set up to follow the pulsations of a number of selected rapidly pulsating subdwarf B stars on time-scales of several years with two immediate observational goals: 1) determine Pdot of the pulsational periods P 2) search for signatures of substellar companions in O-C residuals due to periodic light travel time variations, which would be tracking the central star's companion-induced wobble around the center of mass. These sets of data should therefore at the same time: on the one hand be useful to provide extra constraints for classical asteroseismological exercises from the Pdot (comparison with "local" evolutionary models), and on the other hand allow to investigate the preceding evolution of a target in terms of possible "binary" evolution by extending the otherwise unsuccessful search for companions to potentially very low masses. While timing pulsations may be an observationally expensive method to search for companions, it samples a different range of orbital parameters, inaccessible through orbital photometric effects or the radial velocity method: the latter favours massive close-in companions, whereas the timing method becomes increasingly more sensitive towards wider separations. In this paper we report on the status of the on-going observations and coherence analysis for two of the currently five targets, revealing very well-behaved pulsational characteristics in HS 0444+0458, while showing HS 0702+6043 to be more complex than previously thought.

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