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Astron. Astrophys. 338, 479-490 (1998)

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Near-term detectability of terrestrial extrasolar planets: TEP network observations of CM Draconis

H.J. Deeg 1, L.R. Doyle 2, V.P. Kozhevnikov 3, E.L. Martín 1, B. Oetiker 4, E. Palaiologou 5, J. Schneider 6, C. Afonso 6, E.W. Dunham 7, J.M. Jenkins 2, Z. Ninkov 8, R.P.S. Stone 9 and P.E. Zakharova 3

1 Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, E-38200 La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain (hdeeg@bigfoot.com)
2 SETI Institute, MS 245-3, NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA 94035, USA (doyle@gal.arc.nasa.gov)
3 Astronomical Observatory, Ural State University, Lenin Ave. 51, Ekaterinburg, 620083, Russia
4 University of New Mexico, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Albuquerque, NM 87131, USA
5 University of Crete, Skinakas Observatory, P.O. Box 1527, Heraklion, GR-71110 Crete, Greece
6 CNRS-Observatoire de Paris, F-92195 Meudon, France
7 Lowell Observatory, Flagstaff, AZ 86001, USA
8 Center for Imaging Science, Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY 14623-5604, USA
9 University of California, Lick Observatory, Mount Hamilton, CA 95140, USA

Received 28 October 1997 / Accepted 9 June 1998


Results from a photometric search for extrasolar planetary transits across the eclipsing binary CM Dra are presented. The TEP (Transits of Extrasolar Planets) network has observed this star since 1994, and a lightcurve with 617 hours of coverage has been obtained. The data give a complete phase coverage of the CM Dra system at each of the 3 years of observations, with a noise of less than 5 mmag. New epoch and period values for CM Dra are derived, and a low flare rate of 0.25 [FORMULA] has been confirmed. The absence of periodic variations in eclipse minimum times excludes the presence of very massive planets with periods of less than a few years. The lightcurve was visually scanned for the presence of unusual events which may be indicative of transits of extrasolar planets with 'massive earth' sizes. Six suspicious events were found which are being followed up for future transits, by planets with sizes between 1.5 and 2.5 [FORMULA] (Earth Radii). However, none of these events has amplitudes compatible with planets larger than 2.5 [FORMULA]. Coplanar planets larger than 2.5 [FORMULA] and with orbital periods of less than 60 days can therefore be ruled out with a confidence of about 80%. Planets smaller than 1.5 [FORMULA] cannot be detected in the data without a sub-noise detection algorithm. A preliminary signal detection analysis shows that there is a 50% detection confidence for 2 [FORMULA] planets with a period from 10 to 30 days with the current data. This data-set demonstrates that it is possible to detect terrestrial sized planets with ground based photometry, and that strong constraints on the sizes of planets orbiting in the plane of the CM Dra system can be set.

Key words: stars: individual: CM Dra – planetary systems – binaries: eclipsing – stars: low mass, brown dwarfs – stars: flare – techniques: photometric

Present address: University of California at Berkeley, 601 Campbell Hall, CA 94720

Send offprint requests to: H.J. Deeg (hdeeg@bigfoot.com)

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© European Southern Observatory (ESO) 1998

Online publication: September 14, 1998