February 2015 • 2015AJ....149...55E
Abstract • High-resolution ground-based optical speckle and near-infrared adaptive optics images are taken to search for stars in close angular proximity to host stars of candidate planets identified by the NASA Kepler Mission. Neighboring stars are a potential source of false positive signals. These stars also blend into Kepler light curves, affecting estimated planet properties, and are important for an understanding of planets in multiple star systems. Deep images with high angular resolution help to validate candidate planets by excluding potential background eclipsing binaries as the source of the transit signals. A study of 18 Kepler Object of Interest stars hosting a total of 28 candidate and validated planets is presented. Validation levels are determined for 18 planets against the likelihood of a false positive from a background eclipsing binary. Most of these are validated at the 99% level or higher, including five newly validated planets in two systems: Kepler-430 and Kepler-431. The stellar properties of the candidate host stars are determined by supplementing existing literature values with new spectroscopic characterizations. Close neighbors of seven of these stars are examined using multi-wavelength photometry to determine their nature and influence on the candidate planet properties. Most of the close neighbors appear to be gravitationally bound secondaries, while a few are best explained as closely co-aligned field stars. Revised planet properties are derived for each candidate and validated planet, including cases where the close neighbors are the potential host stars.