Exploring giant planets and their potential moons in the habitable zone

Hill, Michelle L. (2018) Exploring giant planets and their potential moons in the habitable zone. Honours thesis, University of Southern Queensland. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

The recent discovery of a disturbance in the orbital period of a transiting exoplanet observed with the Kepler space telescope has provided the first observational hints of a giant satellite orbiting a planet, or an exomoon. The detection and study of exomoons offers new ways to understand the formation and evolution of planetary systems, and widens the search for signs of life out in the universe. This thesis thus provides proposed exoplanet target lists to search for detectable exomoons and perform more detailed follow-up studies. Improved orbital parameters compared to previous studies have been calculated to aid exomoon searches, and relevant habitable zone boundaries have been added. The list of planets has initially been refined to select exoplanets circular orbits contained within either the optimistic habitable zone (OHZ) or the conservative habitable zone (CHZ). Taking a giant planet mass to be 0.02MJ (Jupiter masses), 121 giant planets in the OHZ and 88 giant planets in the CHZ are found. The eccentricity of each planet’s orbit are then taken into account. In total 61 giant planets eccentric orbits have been found to remain in the OHZ while 26 giant planets eccentric orbits remain in the CHZ. Each of the 121 giant planets radial velocity curves are run through RadVel (Fulton et al. 2018) to confirm the orbital solution and look for linear trends to determine if there are indications for additional companions; potentially either additional planets in orbit or satellites. Of the 121 giant planets tested, 51 show indications of orbital companions. The potential exomoon properties of each giant planet have been calculated and tabulated for future imaging missions, with the results including the Hill radius, Roche limit and expected angular separation of any potentially detectable exomoon.


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Item Type: Thesis (Non-Research) (Honours)
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Bachelor of Science (Honours) (Physics) thesis.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences - School of Agricultural, Computational and Environmental Sciences (1 Jul 2013 - 5 Sep 2019)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences - School of Agricultural, Computational and Environmental Sciences (1 Jul 2013 - 5 Sep 2019)
Supervisors: Carter, Brad; Kane, Stephen
Date Deposited: 07 Sep 2020 02:09
Last Modified: 07 Sep 2020 02:29
Uncontrolled Keywords: astrobiology; astronomical databases; planetary systems; photometric; radial velocity; imaging
Fields of Research (2008): 02 Physical Sciences > 0201 Astronomical and Space Sciences > 020110 Stellar Astronomy and Planetary Systems
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970102 Expanding Knowledge in the Physical Sciences
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/35047

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