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Detecting ‘Temperate’ Jupiters: the prospects of searching for transiting gas giants in Habitable Zones

Authors


E-mail: scfleming@astro.ufl.edu

ABSTRACT

Wide-field photometric surveys in search of transiting extrasolar planets are now numerous and have met with some success in finding hot Jupiters. These transiting planets have very short periods and very small semimajor axes, facilitating their discovery in such surveys. Transiting planets with longer periods present more of a challenge, since they transit their parent stars less frequently. This paper investigates the effects of observing windows on detecting transiting planets by calculating the fraction of planets with a given period that have zero, one (single), two (double), or ≥3 (multiple) transits occurring while observations are being taken. We also investigate the effects of collaboration by performing the same calculations with combined observing times from two wide-field transit survey groups. For a representative field of the 2004 observing season, both XO and SuperWASP experienced an increase in single and double transit events by up to 20–40 per cent for planets with periods 14 < P < 150 d when collaborating by sharing data. For the XO Project using its data alone, between 20–40 per cent of planets with periods 14–150 d should have been observed at least once. For the SuperWASP Project, 50–90 per cent of planets with periods between 14–150 d should have been observed at least once. If XO and SuperWASP combine their observations, 50–100 per cent of planets with periods less than 20 d should be observed three or more times. We find that in general wide-field transit surveys have selected appropriate observing strategies to observe a significant fraction of transiting giant planets with semimajor axes larger than the hot Jupiter regime. The actual number of intermediate-period transiting planets that are detected depends upon their true semimajor axis distribution and the signal-to-noise ratio of the data. We therefore conclude that the investment of resources needed to investigate more sophisticated photometry calibrations or examine single and double transit events from wide-field surveys might be a worthwhile endeavour. The collaboration of different transit surveys by combining photometric data can greatly increase the number of transits observed for all semimajor axes. In addition, the increased number of data points can improve the signal-to-noise ratio of binned data, increasing the chances of detecting transiting extrasolar planets.

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