Characterising stellar micro-variability for planetary transit searches
Astronomy and Astrophysics
A method for simulating light curves containing stellar micro-variability for a range of spectral types and ages is presented. It is based on parameter-by-parameter scaling of a multi-component fit to the solar irradiance power spectrum (based on VIRGO/PMO6 data), and scaling laws derived from ground based observations of various stellar samples. A correlation is observed in the Sun between the amplitude of the power spectrum on long (weeks) timescales and the BBSO Ca II K-line index of chromospheric activity. On the basis of this evidence, the chromospheric activity level, predicted from rotation period and B-V colour estimates according to the relationship first introduced by Noyes (1983) and Noyes et al. (1984), is used to predict the variability power on weeks time scales. The rotation period is estimated on the basis of a fit to the distribution of rotation period versus B-V observed in the Hyades and the Skumanich (1972) spin-down law. The characteristic timescale of the variability is also scaled according to the rotation period. This model is used to estimate the impact of the target star spectral type and age on the detection capability of space based transit searches such as Eddington and Kepler. K stars are found to be the most promising targets, while the performance drops significantly for stars earlier than G and younger than 2.0 Gyr. Simulations also show that Eddington should detect terrestrial planets orbiting solar-age stars in most of the habitable zone for G2 types and all of it for K0 and K5 types.
Copyright © The European Southern Observatory (ESO)
414 (3), pp. 1139-1152