Hubble Space Telescope High-Resolution Imaging of Kepler Small and Cool Exoplanet Host Stars

January 2015 • 2015AJ....149...24G

Authors • Gilliland, Ronald L. • Cartier, Kimberly M. S. • Adams, Elisabeth R. • Ciardi, David R. • Kalas, Paul • Wright, Jason T.

Abstract • High-resolution imaging is an important tool for follow-up study of exoplanet candidates found via transit detection with the Kepler mission. We discuss here Hubble Space Telescope imaging with the WFC3 of 23 stars that host particularly interesting Kepler planet candidates based on their small size and cool equilibrium temperature estimates. Results include detections, exclusion of background stars that could be a source of false positives for the transits, and detection of physically associated companions in a number of cases providing dilution measures necessary for planet parameter refinement. For six Kepler objects of interest, we find that there is ambiguity regarding which star hosts the transiting planet(s), with potentially strong implications for planetary characteristics. Our sample is evenly distributed in G, K, and M spectral types. Albeit with a small sample size, we find that physically associated binaries are more common than expected at each spectral type, reaching a factor of 10 frequency excess in M. We document the program detection sensitivities, detections, and deliverables to the Kepler follow-up program archive.

Based on observations with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, obtained at the Space Telescope Science Institute, operated by AURA, Inc., under NASA contract NAS 5-26555.


IPAC Authors


David Ciardi

Senior Scientist