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[en] Bernstein et al. found that the population of faint (R> 26) trans-Neptunian objects (TNOs) known at that time was dominated by 'Classical' objects, which have low inclinations (i < 50) and distances of 40-45 AU. Since those observations, the number of faint TNOs whose orbits are sufficiently well known to be classified as 'Classical' or 'Excited' has grown from 7 to 39. We analyze the dynamical classifications of faint TNOs known today and find that this population is dominated by Excited objects. We discuss some implications of this result.
[en] We conducted a search for occultations of bright stars by Kuiper Belt Objects (KBOs) to estimate the density of subkilometer KBOs in the sky. We report here the first results of this occultation survey of the outer solar system conducted in 2007 June and 2008 June/July at the MMT Observatory using Megacam, the large MMT optical imager. We used Megacam in a novel shutterless continuous-readout mode to achieve high-precision photometry at 200 Hz, which with point-spread function convolution results in an effective sampling of ∼30 Hz. We present an analysis of 220 star hours of data at a signal-to-noise ratio of 25 or greater, taken from images of fields within 3 deg. of the ecliptic plane. The survey efficiency is greater than 10% for occultations by KBOs of diameter d ≥ 0.7 km, and we report no detections in our data set. We set a new 95% confidence level upper limit for the surface density Σ N(d) of KBOs larger than 1 km: Σ N(d ≥ 1 km) ≤ 2.0 x 108 deg-2, and for KBOs larger than 0.7 km Σ N(d ≥ 0.7 km) ≤ 4.8 x 108 deg-2.
[en] Although OGLE-TR-56b was the second transiting exoplanet discovered, only one light curve, observed in 2006, has been published besides the discovery data. We present 21 light curves of 19 different transits observed between 2003 July and 2009 July with the Magellan Telescopes and Gemini South. The combined analysis of the new light curves confirms a slightly inflated planetary radius relative to model predictions, with Rp = 1.378 ± 0.090 RJ . However, the values found for the transit duration, semimajor axis, and inclination values differ significantly from the previous result, likely due to systematic errors. The new semimajor axis and inclination, a = 0.01942 ± 0.00015 AU and i = 73.072 ± 0.018, are smaller than previously reported, while the total duration, T14 = 7931 ± 38 s, is 18 minutes longer. The transit midtimes have errors from 23 s to several minutes, and no evidence is seen for transit midtime or duration variations. Similarly, no change is seen in the orbital period, implying a nominal stellar tidal decay factor of Q* = 107, with a 3σ lower limit of 105.7.
[en] We present the results of a deep (15 ∼< r ∼< 23), 20 night survey for transiting planets in the intermediate-age open cluster M37 (NGC 2099) using the Megacam wide-field mosaic CCD camera on the 6.5 m MMT. We do not detect any transiting planets among the ∼1450 observed cluster members. We do, however, identify a ∼1RJ candidate planet transiting a ∼0.8 M sun Galactic field star with a period of 0.77 days. The source is faint (V = 19.85 mag) and has an expected velocity semiamplitude of K ∼ 220 m s-1(M/MJ ). We conduct Monte Carlo transit injection and recovery simulations to calculate the 95% confidence upper limit on the fraction of cluster members and field stars with planets as a function of planetary radius and orbital period. Assuming a uniform logarithmic distribution in the orbital period, we find that <1.1%, <2.7%, and <8.3% of cluster members have 1.0RJ planets within extremely hot Jupiter (EHJ; 0.4 < P < 1.0 day), very hot Jupiter (VHJ; 1.0 < P < 3.0 day), and hot Jupiter (HJ; 3.0 < P < 5.0 day) period ranges, respectively. For 0.5RJ planets, the limits are less than 3.2% and less than 21% for EHJ and VHJ period ranges, respectively, while for 0.35RJ planets we can only place an upper limit of less than 25% on the EHJ period range. For a sample of 7814 Galactic field stars, consisting primarily of FGKM dwarfs, we place 95% upper limits of <0.3%, <0.8%, and <2.7% on the fraction of stars with a 1.0RJ EHJ, VHJ, and HJ, respectively, assuming that the candidate planet is not genuine. If the candidate is genuine, the frequency of ∼1.0RJ planets in the EHJ period range is 0.002% < f EHJ < 0.5% with 95% confidence. We place limits of <1.4%, <8.8%, and <47% for 0.5RJ planets, and a limit of <16% on 0.3RJ planets in the EHJ period range. This is the first transit survey to place limits on the fraction of stars with planets as small as Neptune.
[en] There have been previous hints that the transiting planet WASP-3b is accompanied by a second planet in a nearby orbit, based on small deviations from strict periodicity of the observed transits. Here we present 17 precise radial velocity (RV) measurements and 32 transit light curves that were acquired between 2009 and 2011. These data were used to refine the parameters of the host star and transiting planet. This has resulted in reduced uncertainties for the radii and masses of the star and planet. The RV data and the transit times show no evidence for an additional planet in the system. Therefore, we have determined the upper limit on the mass of any hypothetical second planet, as a function of its orbital period.
[en] We have analyzed the first 3.75 years of data from the Taiwanese American Occultation Survey (TAOS). TAOS monitors bright stars to search for occultations by Kuiper Belt objects (KBOs). This data set comprises 5 x 105 star hours of multi-telescope photometric data taken at 4 or 5 Hz. No events consistent with KBO occultations were found in this data set. We compute the number of events expected for the Kuiper Belt formation and evolution models of Pan and Sari, Kenyon and Bromley, Benavidez and Campo Bagatin, and Fraser. A comparison with the upper limits we derive from our data constrains the parameter space of these models. This is the first detailed comparison of models of the KBO size distribution with data from an occultation survey. Our results suggest that the KBO population is composed of objects with low internal strength and that planetary migration played a role in the shaping of the size distribution.