Date of Award

5-2016

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

Department

Physics

First Advisor

Kevin Knuth

Abstract

With the first detection of an exoplanet, came the study of methods to detect and characterize additional planets. Multiple methods for finding exoplanets were developed, including transit methods. When a star’s flux is being observed for an extended period of time and a slight dip in the relative flux is seen periodically, this may be evidence of a planet passing in front of the star and blocking out a portion of the received flux. It is this method that is employed by the Kepler spacecraft. Kepler observes approximately 100,000 stars looking for periodic decreases in stellar fluxes. From the produced light curves, it is possible to determine characteristics of a detected planet. From these light curves, paired with different photometric properties inherent in planetary systems, much in the way of the system’s nature (such as physical parameters of the planet and star and properties relating to the orbit of the planet) can be gleaned. Using the Bayesian nested sampling algorithm EXONEST, three planetary candidates observed by Kepler were studied and their characteristics determined. Due to the Bayesian nature of EXONEST, the probability of different photometric properties being present in a planetary system could be determined and compared.

Included in

Physics Commons

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