Keck Follow-up

Hello PlanetHunters! The Kepler field is finally visible and tonight, grad student John Brewer and I began observing a few of the candidates that you identified.  We are operating the Keck telescope in Hawaii remotely from New Haven, CT. The weather in New Haven may not be great tonight, but it’s perfect in Hawaii – we have clear skies!

There were several steps involved in selecting the best candidates to observe tonight.

  1. You all did the hard first step, classifying data from Q1 to identify prospective transits.
  2. Stuart extracted 3500 prospective transits from the database.
  3. We examined all of your selections by eye – about 100 planet candidates survived (many transits per candidates).
  4. Yale grad student, Matt Giguere, wrote computer programs to model the light curves and to search for evidence of blended background binary stars. Visiting grad student, Thibault Sartori, has been using this code for the past several weeks to model all of the planet candidates – about half of the 100 planet candidates survived that analysis.
  5. John and I will analyze the spectra we collect tonight to derive stellar parameters (temperature, surface gravity and chemical composition) – this will help to better constrain the planet radius.
  6. Jason Rowe and Natalie Batalha from the Kepler team kindly agreed to analyze our  top candidates with the Kepler data verification pipeline to help eliminate additional false positives.

It will be tough to go to the next level and confirm any of these as planets because the stars are faint.  It is sure easy to understand why the Kepler team has more than 1200 planet candidates, but currently only 11 confirmed planet-hosting stars.  It is a long road from planet candidate to a bonafide planet!


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5 responses to “Keck Follow-up”

  1. Lee says :

    Bravo. I went to Maui for my daughters wedding in 2005 and was at the top of the volcano for the sunrise. I’m guessing the weather is nearly Always Perfect up there. You should get some great data.

    I’m really looking forward to the results. I’ll bet these guys have found at least a Few new planets. They really are motivated and willing to help others learn. This next decade should be a lot of fun.

  2. Marilee says :

    Very exciting!

    Enjoy your Keck telescope time tonight…and happy observing!


  3. TomTom333 says :

    GO for it!

    We hope you get them all.

    Tx to you from Latvija


  4. Greg_78 says :


    Will the 3400 rejected transits be marked to indicate they are not “good transits” ?
    It would maybe help the “planethunters”

    Thank you.

  5. Wokkels says :

    It would be great if Keck would observe this system with at least three planet candidates:

    Only one planet candidate has been identified in the Borucki et al paper.
    I think I found two more planets in the same system. Transits and periods confirmed by Kianjin.

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