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 Physics , 2014, DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stv297 Abstract: Kawahara and collaborators analyzed the transits of the candidate disintegrating Mercury-mass planet KIC 12557548b and suggested that the transit depths were correlated with the phase of the stellar rotation. We analyze the transit depths of KIC 12557548b and confirm that there is indeed a robust, statistically significant signal in the transit depths at the rotation period of the spotted host star. This signal is more prominent in the first-half of the Kepler data, and is not due to leakage of the rotating spot signal into our measurement of the transit depths, or due to unocculted starspots. We investigate the suggestion that this signal could be due to an active region on the star, emitting enhanced ultraviolet or X-ray radiation leading to an increased mass loss rate of the planet; we confirm that such a scenario could cause both modulation of the transit depths of KIC 12557548b, and small enough transit-timing variations that they might not be detected in the Kepler data. Our preferred explanation for the fact that the transit depths of KIC 12557548b are modulated with the stellar rotation phase is that the candidate transiting planet is occulting starspots on this highly spotted star; such a scenario could cause transit depth variations as large as have been observed, and cause transit-timing variations small enough that they are arguably consistent with the Kepler data.
 Physics , 2014, DOI: 10.1088/0004-637X/786/2/100 Abstract: We present multiwavelength photometry, high angular resolution imaging, and radial velocities, of the unique and confounding disintegrating low-mass planet candidate KIC 12557548b. Our high angular resolution imaging, which includes spacebased HST/WFC3 observations in the optical, and groundbased Keck/NIRC2 observations in K'-band, allow us to rule-out background and foreground candidates at angular separations greater than 0.2 arcsec that are bright enough to be responsible for the transits we associate with KIC 12557548. Our radial velocity limit from Keck/HIRES allows us to rule-out bound, low-mass stellar companions to KIC 12557548 on orbits less than 10 years, as well as placing an upper-limit on the mass of the candidate planet of 1.2 Jupiter masses; therefore, the combination of our radial velocities, high angular-resolution imaging, and photometry are able to rule-out most false positive interpretations of the transits. Our precise multiwavelength photometry includes two simultaneous detections of the transit of KIC 12557548b using CFHT/WIRCam at 2.15 microns and the Kepler space telescope at 0.6 microns, as well as simultaneous null-detections of the transit by Kepler and HST/WFC3 at 1.4 microns. Our simultaneous HST/WFC3 and Kepler null-detections, provide no evidence for radically different transit depths at these wavelengths. Our simultaneous CFHT/WIRCam detections in the near-infrared and with Kepler in the optical reveal very similar transit depths (the average ratio of the transit depths at ~2.15 microns compared to ~0.6 microns is: 1.02 +/- 0.20). This suggests that if the transits we observe are due to scattering from single-size particles streaming from the planet in a comet-like tail, then the particles must be ~0.5 microns in radius or larger, which would favor that KIC 12557548b is a sub-Mercury, rather than super-Mercury, mass planet.
 Physics , 2015, Abstract: We investigate the plausibility of a cometary source of the unusual transits observed in the KIC 8462852 light curve. A single comet of similar size to those in our solar system produces transit dips of order $10^{-3}$ having a duration of less than a day which are much smaller and shorter than the largest dip observed ($\sim20\%$ for $\sim3$ days) but a large ($>$10), closely traveling cluster of comets can fit the observed depths and durations. We find that a series of large comet clusters with all but one on the same orbit provides a good fit for the KIC 8462852 data during Quarters 16 and 17 but not the large dip observed during Quarter 8. However, the transit dips only loosely constrain the orbits and can be fit by clusters with periastrons differing by an order of magnitude. To reach a transit depth of $\sim0.2$, the comets need to be in a close group of $\sim30$ if $\sim100$ km in radius or in a group of $\sim300$ if $\sim10$ km. The total number of comets required to fit all the dips is 73 $\sim$100 km or 731 $\sim10$ km comets. A single comet family from a large completely disrupted progenitor explains the last $\sim60$ days of the unusual KIC 8462852 light curve.
 Physics , 2014, DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/201424876 Abstract: Recently, two exoplanet candidates have been discovered, KIC 12557548b and KOI-2700b, whose transit profiles show evidence for a comet-like tail of dust trailing the planet, thought to be fed by the evaporation of the planet's surface. We aim to put constraints on the composition of the dust ejected by these objects from the shape of their transit light curves. We derive a semi-analytical expression for the attenuation of dust cross-section in the tail, incorporating the sublimation of dust grains as well as their drift away from the planet. This expression shows that the length of the tail is highly sensitive to the sublimation properties of the dust material. We compute tail lengths for several possible dust compositions, and compare these to observational estimates of the tail lengths of KIC 12557548b and KOI-2700b, inferred from their light curves. The observed tail lengths are consistent with dust grains composed of corundum (Al2O3) or iron-rich silicate minerals (e.g., fayalite, Fe2SiO4). Pure iron and carbonaceous compositions are disfavoured. In addition, we estimate dust mass loss rates of 1.7 +/- 0.5 M_earth/Gyr for KIC 12557548b, and > 0.007 M_earth/Gyr (1-sigma lower limit) for KOI-2700b.
 Physics , 2015, DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stv186 Abstract: The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is predicted to make great advances in the field of exoplanet atmospheres. Its 25 m2 mirror means that it can reach unprecedented levels of precision in observations of transit spectra, and can thus characterise the atmospheres of planets orbiting stars several hundred pc away. Its coverage of the infrared spectral region between 0.6 and 28 {\mu}m allows the abundances of key molecules to be probed during the transit of a planet in front of the host star, and when the same planet is eclipsed constraints can be placed on its temperature structure. In this work, we explore the possibility of using low-spectral-resolution observations by JWST/NIRSpec and JWST/MIRI-LRS together to optimise wavelength coverage and break degeneracies in the atmospheric retrieval problem for a range of exoplanets from hot Jupiters to super Earths. This approach involves stitching together non-simultaneous observations in different wavelength regions, rendering it necessary to consider the effect of time-varying instrumental and astrophysical systematics. We present the results of a series of retrieval feasibility tests examining the effects of instrument systematics and star spots on the recoverability of the true atmospheric state, and demonstrate that correcting for these systematics is key for successful exoplanet science with JWST.
 Jan Budaj Physics , 2012, DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/201220260 Abstract: An object with a very peculiar light-curve was discovered recently using Kepler data. Authors argue that this object may be a transiting disintegrating planet with a comet like dusty tail. We calculate the light-curves of stars with such planets and take into account the Mie absorption and scattering on spherical dust grains of various sizes assuming realistic dust opacities and phase functions and finite radius of the source of the scattered light. The planet light-curve is reanalysed using long and short cadence Kepler observations from the first 14 quarters. Orbital period of the planet was improved. We prove that the peculiar light-curve of this objects is in agreement with the idea of a planet with a comet like tail. There is an evidence of a quasi periodic long term evolution of the tail. Light-curve has a prominent pre-transit brightening and a less prominent post-transit brightening. Both are caused by the forward scattering and are a strong function of the particle size. This feature enabled us to estimate a typical particle size (radius) in the dust tail of about 0.1-1 micron. However, there is an indication that the particle size changes along the tail. Larger particles better reproduce the pre-transit brightening and transit core while smaller particles are more compatible with the egress and post-transit brightening. Dust density in the tail is a steep decreasing function of the distance from the planet which indicates a significant tail destruction caused by the star. We also argue that the 'planet' does not show uniform behaviour but may have at least two constituents. This light-curve with pre-transit brightening is analogous to the light-curve of $\epsilon$ Aur with mid-eclipse brightening and forward scattering plays a significant role in such eclipsing systems.
 Physics , 2015, DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/201527184 Abstract: Transit timing variations (TTVs) of exoplanets are normally interpreted as the consequence of gravitational interaction with additional bodies in the system. However, TTVs can also be caused by deformations of the system transits by starspots, which might thus pose a serious complication in their interpretation. We therefore simulate transit light curves deformed by spot-crossing events for different properties of the stellar surface and the planet, such as starspot position, limb darkening, planetary period, and impact parameter. Mid-transit times determined from these simulations can be significantly shifted with respect to the input values; these shifts cannot be larger than ~1% of the transit duration and depend most strongly on the longitudinal position of the spot during the transit and the transit duration. Consequently, TTVs with amplitudes larger than the above limit are very unlikely to be caused by starspots. We also investigate whether TTVs from sequences of consecutive transits with spot-crossing anomalies can be misinterpreted as the result of an additional body in the system. We use the Generalized Lomb-Scargle periodogram to search for periods in TTVs and conclude that low amplitude TTVs with statistically significant periods around active stars are the most problematic cases. In those cases where the photometric precision is high enough to inspect the transit shapes for deformations, it should be possible to identify TTVs caused by starspots, however, especially for cases with low transit signal to noise light curves (TSNR $\lesssim$ 15) it becomes quite difficult to reliably decide whether these periods come from starspots, physical companions in the system or if they are random noise artifacts.
 Physics , 2015, DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/201526154 Abstract: Context: Several hundred candidate hybrid pulsators of type A-F have been identified from space-based observations. Their large number allows both statistical analyses and detailed investigations of individual stars. This offers the opportunity to study the full interior of the genuine hybrids, in which both low-radial-order p- and high-order g-modes are self-excited at the same time. However, a few other physical processes can also be responsible for the observed hybrid nature, related to binarity or to surface inhomogeneities. The finding that most delta Scuti stars also show long-period light variations represents a real challenge for theory. Methods: Fourier analysis of all the available Kepler light curves. Investigation of the frequency and period spacings. Determination of the stellar physical parameters from spectroscopic observations. Modelling of the transit events. Results: The Fourier analysis of the Kepler light curves revealed 55 significant frequencies clustered into two groups, which are separated by a gap between 15 and 27 c/d. The light variations are dominated by the beating of two dominant frequencies located at around 4 c/d. The amplitudes of these two frequencies show a monotonic long-term trend. The frequency spacing analysis revealed two possibilities: the pulsator is either a highly inclined moderate rotator (v~70 km/s, i > 70 deg) or a fast rotator (v~200 km/s) with i~20 deg. The transit analysis disclosed that the transit events which occur with a ~197 c/d period may be caused by a 1.6 R_Jup body orbiting a fainter star, which would be spatially coincident with KIC 9533489.
 Physics , 2011, DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/201015382 Abstract: CoRoT-2, the second planet-hosting star discovered by the CoRoT satellite, is a young and active star. A total of 77 transits were observed for this system over a period of 135 days. Small modulations detected in the optical light curve of the planetary transits are used to study the position, size, intensity, and temporal evolution of the photospheric spots on the surface of the star that are occulted by the planetary disk. We apply a spot model to these variations and create a spot map of the stellar surface of CoRoT-2 within the transit band for every transit. From these maps, we estimate the stellar rotation period and obtain the longitudes of the spots in a reference frame rotating with the star. Moreover, the spots temporal evolution is determined. This model achieves a spatial resolution of 2\circ. Mapping of 392 spots vs. longitude indicates the presence of a region free of spots, close to the equator, reminiscent of the coronal holes observed on the Sun during periods of maximum activity. With this interpretation, the stellar rotation period within the transit latitudes of -14.\circ 6 \pm 10 \circ is found to be 4.48 days. This rotation period is shorter than the 4.54 days as derived from the out-of-transit light modulation. Since the transit data samples a region close to the stellar equator, while the period determined from out-of-transit data reflects the average rotation of the star, this is taken as an indication of a latitudinal differential rotation of about 3% or 0.042 rad/d.
 Physics , 2015, Abstract: By analysing K2 short-cadence observations we detect starspots on WASP-85A, the host star of the hot Jupiter WASP-85Ab. The star shows a rotational modulation with a period of 13.6 $\pm$ 0.1 d. The absence of repeated occultations of the same spots suggests that the planet's orbit is not aligned with the star's rotational axis ($\lambda>10^{\circ}$). There are no significant transit-timing variations and thus no evidence of any additional planet in the system. Given the pronounced rotational modulation we are only able to place an upper limit of 100 parts per million for any phase-curve modulations and the secondary eclipse.
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