finding exoplanets that aren't transiting

Avi Shporer (JPL) gave a nice talk this morning about finding planets in the Kepler data that are not transiting, using what's called "phase curves". There are multiple effects that make this possible: One is that close (hot) planets are heated asymmetrically, so they add to the lightcurve in a non-trivial way through the orbit. Another is relativistic beaming (seriously!) and another is produced by the ellipticity induced in the star tidally by the planet. Shporer has done a search of the Kepler data for such signals. He hasn't found many, but what he has found are all interesting. I got interested during the talk in the induced-ellipticity effect; this might have odd phase relations if the star is spinning.

In group meeting, we talked about various things, including Huppenkothen's Fermi proposal, Vakili's point-spread function model, and my proposals for cosmological inference using likelihood-free methods. I had lunch with Andrew Zirm (greenhouse.io) who used to work on galaxy evolution and is now a data scientist here in New York City. In the afternoon, Malz and I figured out the absolute simplest possible first project for doing hierarchical inference with probabilistic photometric redshifts.

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