Transit Search Program


The Spectrashift Team started a transit search program in November 2008. An exoplanet can be detected when the planet crosses in front of the star causing a very slight drop in light output from the star. 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 several hundred 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.

Some light curved generated by our transit search project. A hump means that the star dimmed during that time.