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BillP

Exoplanet Detection with Consumer Equipment

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I recently came across a group near where I live that configured their imaging equipment to detect exoplanet transits.  I had no idea this was feasible with consumer telescopes and gear.  I took a short drive to look over their equipment and talk to them to put together this article.  Enjoy!

 

MSRO Exoplanet Hunters.pdf

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Yes  amateurs have been doing this pretty much ever since transits were first detected by professionals. eg my measurements using a modified webcam back in 2004

http://www.threehillsobservatory.co.uk/astro/TrES_1.htm

and this current very long but ultimately successful thread here for example

These sorts of measurements are now routine for amateurs and are used for example to check the timings which might reveal the presence of other planets. Note all these measurement are of known transiting exoplanets. As far as I know no amateur has ever discovered a new exoplanet using their own equipment though. 

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And even more challenging is using spectroscopy to measure the tiny wobble of the star caused by the planet, which very few amateurs have done. See French amateur Christian Buil's page here for example. (In French but the graph at the bottom shows the result, measuring wavelength shifts to 1 part in 10 million)

http://www.astrosurf.com/buil/extrasolar/obs.htm

Robin

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That's great news.  There are a number of  amateur ground based "Kepler" type surveys running and there is a lot of sky to explore so I guess it was only a matter of time.  One I know of  by a uk amateur which has been running since before Kepler was launched has found many hundreds of new variable stars but no exoplanets.

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Bill,

Do you know what they are using the 200l/mm diffraction grating mentioned in the equipment list in your article for in their exoplanet studies?   

(A small correction, the 13 Angstrom/pixel quoted is the dispersion, not the resolution. The spectral resolution will be 26 Angstrom at best but probably lower depending on various factors)

Cheers

Robin

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No I do not.  But feel free to email Jerry Hubbell from Explore Scientific that is part of the MSRO.  He's happy to answer questions - jrh@explorescientific.com. 

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21 hours ago, BillP said:

 feel free to email Jerry Hubbell

Yes I  believe the grating Jerry is using is the Star Analyser which I developed back in 2005.   That's why I was curious.  Perhaps he is looking for planetary atmospheres, which slightly alter the transit timings at different wavelengths. I will catch up with him direct and report back.

Cheers

Robin

Edited by robin_astro
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Hi Robin,  we are not using the Star Analyzer for our exoplanet work, we use it for our general work in identifying star types and other related activities. As you know this instrument is way too crude to see anything related to exoplanet transits. 

Thanks

Jerry Hubbell

Assistant Director MSRO

Vice President of Engineering, Explore Scientific, LLC.

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Hi Jerry,

Yes that is why I was surprised to see it referred to in Bill's  article on exoplanets:

" The MSRO is equipped with the following for exoplanet detection:

A 200 line‐per‐millimeter spectroscopic grating with an effective resolution of about 13 angstroms/pixels"

Robin

Edited by robin_astro

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The potential study of of exoplanet atmospheres via  transit depth and timing at different wavelengths is an interesting one though which could in principal be undertaken at visible wavelengths using the Star Analyser,  looking for methane for example perhaps. (The limiting factors would lie elsewhere than in the "crudeness" as you put it of the Star Analyser) though the technique is more applicable to IR wavelengths where the typical spectroscopic signatures of atmospheres are found

https://www.physics.uu.se/research/astronomy-and-space-physics/research/planets/exoplanet-atmospheres/

Robin

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Is Stan waterman stilldoing his stuff?

 

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4 hours ago, kev said:

Is Stan waterman stilldoing his stuff?

 

I said hello to him in passing at the AAVSO/BAA meeting in the summer but did not get a chance to catch up with him. I'm not sure whether or not he is still taking measurements. Last time I spoke to him he was working on consolidating all the results he had for others to make use of but the latest update on his website is April last year 

http://www.stanwaterman.co.uk/variablestars/

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