Discovering Ultra-Short-Period K2 Exoplanets

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date



College of Arts and Sciences


Department of Physics

Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Brian Jackson


The K2 Mission, an extension of NASA’s Kepler Mission, collects the light curves of stars with the aim of finding transiting planets. Our group, the Short-Period Planets Group (SuPerPiG), focuses on finding transiting planets very close to their host stars. Our search scheme involves considerable data conditioning to remove longer-period signals due to astrophysical and instrumental effects, followed by a robust analysis for periodic signals. However, even after these processing steps, it is still expedient to examine each of these light curves by hand to weed out objects that are obviously not planets, such as eclipsing binary stars and light curves that are clearly sinusoidal. For the candidates whose light curves pass this level of scrutiny, further follow-up observations, such as low-precision radial velocity and adaptive optics observations, as well as spectral characterization of the host star, are necessary to weed out false positives. Radial velocity observations allow us to ensure that the candidates are not instead stellar companions in binary systems. Using data from the K2 Missions Campaigns 6, 7, 8, and 10, we have independently discovered dozens of ultra-short-period planetary candidates through this process.

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