populations of exoplanets and binary stars

Tim Morton (Princeton) came up to the Simons Foundation for the day and we talked about exoplanets and binary stars. As my loyal reader knows, Morton maintains the best model of binary stars for assessing false positive rates in Kepler data. He is working on vetting true exoplanet candidates (that is, making decisions about individual systems) and also modeling jointly the exoplanet and binary-star populations. We discussed various issues in all of this. Morton's current goal is to understand the exoplanet population—not by excluding the binaries—but by modeling them simultaneously. This is the right move, given that there will always be many seriously ambiguous cases. We also discussed the relationship between technologies that Morton is developing for exoplanets (like population-level ABC inference) and what's needed in other astrophysical domains, like large-scale structure and the populations of gravitational-wave sources.

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