Transit probabilities for stars with stellar inclination constraints

Thomas G. Beatty, Sara Seager

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


The probability that an exoplanet transits its host star is high for planets in close orbits, but drops off rapidly for increasing semimajor axes. This makes transit surveys for planets with large semimajor axes orbiting bright stars impractical, since one would need to continuously observe hundreds of stars that are spread out over the entire sky. One way to make such a survey tractable is to constrain the inclination of the stellar rotation axes in advance, and thereby enhance the transit probabilities. We derive transit probabilities for stars with stellar inclination constraints, considering a reasonable range of planetary system inclinations. We find that stellar inclination constraints can improve the transit probability by almost an order of magnitude for habitable-zone planets. When applied to an ensemble of stars, such constraints dramatically lower the number of stars that need to be observed in a targeted transit survey. We also consider multiplanet systems where only one planet has an identified transit and derive the transit probabilities for the second planet assuming a range of mutual planetary inclinations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1433-1442
Number of pages10
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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