Optimizing efficiency and mitigating mass biases in TESS era radial velocity surveys

Dr. Jennifer Burt (MIT)
December 12, 2017 - 4:00pm


As NASA's TESS mission provides a dramatic increase in the number of exoplanet candidates orbiting bright stars, careful thought must be applied when considering how best to direct follow up observations. This is especially true when pursuing exoplanet mass measurements, given the dearth of precision RV facilities currently in operation. In preparation for this new challenge, we forecast the ability of the Automated Planet Finder (APF) telescope to measure exoplanet masses using an updated prediction of the TESS planet yield. We have built a full facility simulator that takes into account telescope and instrument performance (based on our prior years of observational data), as well as basic models for weather, atmospheric seeing and stellar activity. I will present an overview of the APF and our recent scientific results, before discussing the results of a simulated three-year, RV follow-up survey of the TESS planet candidates in the northern hemisphere. These simulations use time varying prioritization schemes that optimize minute-to-minute target selections with a posteriori knowledge of the planets’ orbital phase as derived from the transit light curves. These simulations confirm the APF's ability to contribute to TESS follow up, but also reveal the presence of a significant bias in the measured exoplanet masses due to common science reporting practices. This type of study could be applied to any number of upcoming RV facilities/surveys to optimize collaborative efforts and maximize the scientific impact of TESS.