Characterizing transiting extrasolar planets with narrow-band photometry and GTC/OSIRIS

Knicole D. Colón, Eric B. Ford, Brian Lee, Suvrath Mahadevan, Cullen H. Blake

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36 Scopus citations


We report the first extrasolar planet observations from the 10.4-m Gran Telescopio Canarias (GTC), currently the world's largest, fully steerable, single-aperture optical telescope. We used the Optical System for Imaging and low Resolution Integrated Spectroscopy (OSIRIS) tunable filter imager on the GTC to acquire high-precision, narrow-band photometry of the transits of the giant exoplanets, TrES-2b and TrES-3b. We obtained near-simultaneous observations in two near-infrared wavebands (790.2 and 794.4 ± 2.0 nm) specifically chosen to avoid water vapour absorption and skyglow so as to minimize the atmospheric effects that often limit the precision of ground-based photometry. Our results demonstrate a very-high photometric precision with minimal atmospheric contamination despite relatively poor atmospheric conditions and some technical problems with the telescope. We find the photometric precision for the TrES-2 observations to be 0.343 and 0.412 mmag for the 790.2- and 794.4-nm light curves, and the precision of the TrES-3 observations was found to be 0.470 and 0.424 mmag for the 790.2- and 794.4-nm light curves, respectively. We also discuss how future follow-up observations of transiting planets with this novel technique can contribute to the characterization of Neptune- and super-Earth-size planets to be discovered by space-based missions like CoRoT and Kepler, as well as measure atmospheric properties of giant planets, such as the strength of atmospheric absorption features.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1494-1501
Number of pages8
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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