Press Release

Simulating the Exoplanet Yield of a Space-based MIR Interferometer Based on Kepler Statistics

By SpaceRef Editor
July 28, 2017
Filed under , , ,

J. Kammerer, S. P. Quanz
(Submitted on 21 Jul 2017)

Aims: We predict the exoplanet yield of a space-based mid-infrared nulling interferometer using Monte-Carlo simulations. We quantify the number and properties of detectable exoplanets and identify those target stars that have the highest or most complete detection rate. We further investigate how changes in the underlying technical assumptions and uncertainties in the underlying planet population impact the scientific return. Methods: We simulate 2000 exoplanetary systems around each of 326 nearby (d < 20 pc) main-sequence stars based on planet occurrence statistics from Kepler. We put each exoplanet on a randomly oriented orbit and draw uniformly distributed Bond and geometric albedos. We calculate the apparent angular separation between the exoplanets and their host stars and the observed flux from each exoplanet assuming thermal equilibrium and blackbody emission. Results: ~315(-77/+113) exoplanets (with radii 0.5 R_Earth <= R_p <= 6 R_Earth) could be detected in at least one of the bands; half of them in all three. The uncertainties are dominated by uncertainties in the underlying planet population. Roughly one half of these planets are detected around M stars, which also have the highest planet yield per star; the other half around FGK stars, which show overall a higher completeness in the detectability. Furthermore, ~85 planets have radii 0.5 R_Earth <= R_p <= 1.75 R_Earth and equilibrium temperatures 200 K <= T_eq <= 450 K and are prime targets for spectroscopic observations in a second mission phase. The expected exoplanet yield depends strongly on the Bond albedo, but is robust with respect to the orbital eccentricity and the geometric albedo. Higher planet yields can be realized by further optimizing the observing strategy, but even the baseline planet yield is higher than that of a large space-based optical/NIR telescope. Comments:    Re-submitted to A&A including first comments from referee; additional feedback welcome
Subjects:    Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)
Cite as:    arXiv:1707.06820 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:1707.06820v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Jens Kammerer 
[v1] Fri, 21 Jul 2017 10:02:41 GMT (179kb,D)

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