Date of Award




Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Department of Physics

Content Description

1 online resource (ii, 81 pages) : illustrations (some color)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Kevin H Knuth

Committee Members

Ariel Caticha, Oleg Lunin


Bayesian, Ellipsoidal Variation, Exoplanets, Kepler-13, Model Testing, Nested Sampling, Variable stars, Astronomical photometry, Extrasolar planets, Bayesian statistical decision theory, Orbit determination

Subject Categories

Astrophysics and Astronomy | Library and Information Science | Physics


A massive planet closely orbiting its host star creates tidal forces that distort the typically spherical stellar surface. These distortions, known as ellipsoidal variations, result in variations in the photometric flux emitted by the star, which can be detected by the Kepler Space Telescope. Currently, there exist several models describing such variations and their effect on the photometric fux [1] [2] [3] [4]. By using Bayesian model testing in conjunction with the Bayesian-based exoplanet characterization software package EXONEST [4] [5] [6], the most probable representation for ellipsoidal variations was determined for synthetic data and two systems with confirmed hot Jupiter exoplanets: HAT-P-7 and Kepler-13. The models were indistinguishable for the HAT-P-7 system likely due to noise within the dataset washing out the differences between the models. The most preferred model for ellipsoidal variations was determined to be EVIL-MC.