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The Hunt for Exomoons with Kepler

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*** Special Seminar ***

Extrasolar moon may be frequent, temperate abodes for life and their detection would not only have astrobiological significance but would also greatly further our understanding of planet/moon formation theories. For the first time, the detection of a transiting planet-moon system is moving from the realms of theory to observation due to the unprecedented photometric precision being achieved by Kepler. In this talk, I will discuss how we might find a transiting exomoon, exploring both the dynamical effects (such as transit timing variations) and the eclipse effects (such as mutual eclipses) which may be observable. It is shown that Kepler is capable of finding Earth-sized and –mass moons. I will then introduce a new systematic program to search these elusive objects, “The Hunt for Exomoons with Kepler” (HEK). I will discuss the objectives, target selection methods, fitting techniques and vetting strategies for HEK along with the present status of the project.

This talk is part of the Cavendish Astrophysics Seminars series.

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