Transit Search Program
The Spectrashift Team has finally started actually searching for extrasolar planets as of November 2008. The primary search telescope is Junk Bond Observatories fully automated 32" Ritchie Cretien telescope. The telescope is now repeatedly imaging star fields every clear night. We are currently monitoring about 1000 stars looking for hot jupiter transits. Our strategy is to go deeper than 10th magnitude which is beyond the reach of most of the professional searches. The number of stars we see in a single night is much less but we also get fewer false positives from crowded star fields.
Having the right telescope is not enough. Powerful software is required to analyze the hundreds of images taken in a night. We have developed our own software pipeline that does most of the work automatically. It finds the stars, creates light curves and then examines each one to determine if it is varying enough to have a transiting planet. It then presents the possible candidates to the astronomer for final evaluation.
As of end of January 2009 we have processed more than 30,000 light curves. We are looking for transit features that repeat on a regular basis. So far we have found many that repeat twice, but none three times. Stay tuned!
Some light curved generated by our transit
search project. A hump means that the star dimmed
during that time.