Forward Modeling the Orbits of Companions to Pulsating Stars from Their Light Travel Time Variations

Hey, Daniel R. and Murphy, Simon J. and Foreman-Mackey, Daniel and Bedding, Timothy R. and Pope, Benjamin J. S. and Hogg, David W. (2020) Forward Modeling the Orbits of Companions to Pulsating Stars from Their Light Travel Time Variations. The Astronomical Journal, 159 (5). pp. 1-11.


Mutual gravitation between a pulsating star and an orbital companion leads to a time-dependent variation in path length for starlight traveling to Earth. These variations can be used for coherently pulsating stars, such as the δ Scuti variables, to constrain the masses and orbits of their companions. Observing these variations for δ Scuti stars has previously relied on subdividing the light curve and measuring the average pulsation phase in equally sized subdivisions, which leads to undersampling near periapsis. We introduce a new approach that simultaneously forward models each sample in the light curve and show that this method improves upon current sensitivity limits—especially in the case of highly eccentric and short-period binaries. We find that this approach is sensitive enough to observe Jupiter mass planets around δ Scuti stars under ideal conditions, and use gravity-mode pulsations in the subdwarf B star KIC 7668647 to detect its companion without radial velocity data. We further provide robust detection limits as a function of the signal-to-noise ratio of the pulsation mode and determine that the minimum detectable light travel time amplitude for a typical Kepler δ Scuti is around 2 s. This new method significantly enhances the application of light travel time variations to detecting short-period binaries with pulsating components, and pulsating A-type exoplanet host stars, especially as a tool for eliminating false positives.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Files associated with this item cannot be displayed due to copyright restrictions.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: No Faculty
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: No Faculty
Date Deposited: 13 Jul 2022 00:02
Last Modified: 13 Jul 2022 00:10
Uncontrolled Keywords: 73, 489, 154, 370, 129, Astrophysics - Solar and Stellar Astrophysics
Fields of Research (2020): 51 PHYSICAL SCIENCES > 5101 Astronomical sciences > 510109 Stellar astronomy and planetary systems
Socio-Economic Objectives (2020): 28 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 2801 Expanding knowledge > 280120 Expanding knowledge in the physical sciences
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