The third transit of snow-line exoplanet Kepler-421b
Dalba, P. A.
Muirhead, P. S.
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Citation (published version)PA Dalba, PS Muirhead. 2016. "The Third Transit of Snow-Line Exoplanet Kepler-421b." AAS/Division for Planetary Sciences Meeting Abstracts.
The Kepler Mission has uncovered a handful of long-period transiting exoplanets that orbit from the cold outer reaches of their systems, despite their low transit probabilities. The atmospheres of these cold gas giant exoplanets are amenable to transit transmission spectroscopy enabling tests of planetary formation and evolution theories. Of particular scientific interest is Kepler-421b, a Neptune-sized exoplanet with a 704-day orbital period residing near the snow-line. Since the Kepler Spacecraft only observed two transits of Kepler-421b, the transit ephemeris is relatively uncertain. We observed Kepler-421 during the anticipated third transit of Kepler-421b in order to constrain the existence and extent of transit timing variations (TTVs). Barring significant TTVs, our visible light, time-series observations from the 4.3-meter Discovery Channel Telescope (DCT) were designed to capture pre-transit baseline and the partial transit of Kepler-421b. We find strong evidence in favor of transit models with no TTVs, suggesting that Kepler-421b is either alone in its system or is only experiencing minor dynamic interactions with an unseen companion. With the combined Kepler and DCT observations, we calculate the timing of future transits and discuss the unique opportunity to characterize the atmosphere of this cold, long-period exoplanet via transmission spectroscopy.