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Saint-Jean-de-Luz, France

Abe L.,University of Nice Sophia Antipolis | Goncalves I.,University of Nice Sophia Antipolis | Agabi A.,University of Nice Sophia Antipolis | Alapini A.,University of Exeter | And 29 more authors.
Astronomy and Astrophysics | Year: 2013

Aims. The Antarctica Search for Transiting ExoPlanets (ASTEP) program was originally aimed at probing the quality of the Dome C, Antarctica for the discovery and characterization of exoplanets by photometry. In the first year of operation of the 40 cm ASTEP 400 telescope (austral winter 2010), we targeted the known transiting planet WASP-19b in order to try to detect its secondary transits in the visible. This is made possible by the excellent sub-millimagnitude precision of the binned data. Methods. The WASP-19 system was observed during 24 nights in May 2010. Once brought back from Antarctica, the data were processed using various methods, and the best results were with an implementation of the optimal image subtraction (OIS) algorithm. Results. The photometric variability level due to starspots is about 1.8% (peak-to-peak), in line with the SuperWASP data from 2007 (1.4%) and higher than in 2008 (0.07%). We find a rotation period of WASP-19 of 10.7 ± 0.5 days, in agreement with the SuperWASP determination of 10.5 ± 0.2 days. Theoretical models show that this can only be explained if tidal dissipation in the star is weak, i.e. the tidal dissipation factor Q'ẫ... > 3×107. Separately, we find evidence of a secondary eclipse of depth 390 ± 190 ppm with a 2.0σ significance, a phase that is consistent with a circular orbit and a 3% false positive probability. Given the wavelength range of the observations (420 to 950 nm), the secondary transit depth translates into a day-side brightness temperature of 2690 -220 +150 K, in line with measurements in the z′ and K bands. The day-side emission observed in the visible could be due either to thermal emission of an extremely hot day side with very little redistribution of heat to the night side or to direct reflection of stellar light with a maximum geometrical albedo Ag = 0.27 ± 0.13. We also report a low-frequency oscillation in phase at the planet orbital period, but with a lower limit amplitude that could not be attributed to the planet phase alone and that was possibly contaminated with residual lightcurve trends. Conclusions. This first evidence of a secondary eclipse in the visible from the ground demonstrates the high potential of Dome C, Antarctica, for continuous photometric observations of stars with exoplanets. These continuous observations are required to understand star-planet interactions and the dynamical properties of exoplanetary atmospheres. © 2013 ESO. Source


Crouzet N.,US Space Telescope Science Institute | Guillot T.,French National Center for Scientific Research | Mekarnia D.,French National Center for Scientific Research | Szulagyi J.,French National Center for Scientific Research | And 16 more authors.
Proceedings of the International Astronomical Union | Year: 2012

The ASTEP project aims at detecting and characterizing transiting planets from Dome C, Antarctica, and qualifying this site for photometry in the visible. The first phase of the project, ASTEP South, is a fixed 10 cm diameter instrument pointing continuously towards the celestial South Pole. Observations were made almost continuously during 4 winters, from 2008 to 2011. The point-to-point RMS of 1-day photometric lightcurves can be explained by a combination of expected statistical noises, dominated by the photon noise up to magnitude 14. This RMS is large, from 2.5 mmag at R = 8 to 6% at R = 14, because of the small size of ASTEP South and the short exposure time (30 s). Statistical noises should be considerably reduced using the large amount of collected data. A 9.9-day period eclipsing binary is detected, with a magnitude R = 9.85. The 2-season lightcurve folded in phase and binned into 1,000 points has a RMS of 1.09 mmag, for an expected photon noise of 0.29 mmag. The use of the 4 seasons of data with a better detrending algorithm should yield a sub-millimagnitude precision for this folded lightcurve. Radial velocity follow-up observations reveal a F-M binary system. The detection of this 9.9-day period system with a small instrument such as ASTEP South and the precision of the folded lightcurve show the quality of Dome C for continuous photometric observations, and its potential for the detection of planets with orbital periods longer than those usually detected from the ground. Copyright © 2013 International Astronomical Union. Source


Crouzet N.,University of Nice Sophia Antipolis | Guillot T.,University of Nice Sophia Antipolis | Agabi A.,University of Nice Sophia Antipolis | Rivet J.-P.,University of Nice Sophia Antipolis | And 19 more authors.
Astronomy and Astrophysics | Year: 2010

Context: The Concordia base in Dome C, Antarctica, is an extremely promising site for photometric astronomy due to the 3-month long night during the Antarctic winter, favorable weather conditions, and low scintillation. Aims: The ASTEP project (Antarctic Search for Transiting ExoPlanets) is a pilot project to discover transiting planets and understand the limits of visible photometry from the Concordia site. Methods: ASTEP South is the first phase of the ASTEP project. The instrument is a fixed 10 cm refractor with a 4k × 4k CCD camera in a thermalized box, pointing continuously a 3.88 × 3.88°2 field of view centered on the celestial south pole. We describe the project and report results of a preliminary data analysis. Results: ASTEP South became fully functional in June 2008 and obtained 1592 hours of data during the 2008 Antarctic winter. The data are of good quality but the analysis has to account for changes in the PSF (point spread function) due to rapid ground seeing variations and instrumental effects. The pointing direction is stable within 10 arcsec on a daily timescale and drifts by only 34 arcsec in 50 days. A truly continuous photometry of bright stars is possible in June (the noon sky background peaks at a magnitude R ≈ 15 arcsec-2 on June 22), but becomes challenging in July (the noon sky background magnitude is R ≈ 12.5 arcsec-2 on July 20). The weather conditions are estimated from the number of stars detected in the field. For the 2008 winter, the statistics are between 56.3% and 68.4% of excellent weather, 17.9% to 30% of veiled weather (when the probable presence of thin clouds implies a lower number of detected stars) and 13.7% of bad weather. Using these results in a probabilistic analysis of transit detection, we show that the detection efficiency of transiting exoplanets in one given field is improved at Dome C compared to a temperate site such as La Silla. For example we estimate that a year-long campaign of 10 cm refractor could reach an efficiency of 69% at Dome C versus 45% at La Silla for detecting 2-day period giant planets around target stars from magnitude 10 to 15. The detection efficiency decreases for planets with longer orbital periods, but in relative sense it is even more favorable to Dome C. Conclusions: This shows the high potential of Dome C for photometry and future planet discoveries. © 2010 ESO. Source


Crouzet N.,University of Nice Sophia Antipolis | Guillot T.,University of Nice Sophia Antipolis | Agabi K.,University of Nice Sophia Antipolis | Daban J.-B.,University of Nice Sophia Antipolis | And 15 more authors.
EPJ Web of Conferences | Year: 2011

The ASTEP project (Antarctic Search for Transiting ExoPlanets), aims at testing the quality of the Dome C site in Antarctica for photometry in the visible, as well as detecting and characterizing transiting exoplanets. A dedicated telescope, ASTEP400, has been developped and installed at Concordia. The first campaign took place during the winter 2010, and the telescope functionned nominally during all the winter. A first analysis of the data leads to a precision of 189 and 205 ppm for WASP-19 and WASP-18 respectively, for continuous observations during 1 month. This shows that extremely high precision photometry is achievable from Dome C. © 2011 Owned by the authors, published by EDP Sciences. Source


Daban J.-B.,University of Nice Sophia Antipolis | Gouvret C.,University of Nice Sophia Antipolis | Guillot T.,CASSIOPEE | Agabi A.,University of Nice Sophia Antipolis | And 13 more authors.
Proceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering | Year: 2010

The Concordia Base in Dome C, Antarctica, is an extremely promising site for photometric astronomy due to the 3-month long night during the Antarctic winter, favorable weather conditions, and low scintillation. The ASTEP project (Antarctic Search for Transiting ExoPlanets) is a pilot project which seeks to identify transiting planets and understand the limits of visible photometry from this site. ASTEP 400 is an optical 40cm telescope with a field of view of 1° × 1°. The expected photometric sensitivity is 1E-3, per hour for at least 1,000 stars. The optical design guarantees high homogeneity of the PSF sizes in the field of view. The use of carbon fibers in the telescope structure guarantees high stability. The focal optics and the detectors are enclosed in a thermally regulated box which withstands extremely low temperatures. The telescope designed to run at -80°C (-110°F) was set up at Dome C during the southern summer 2009-2010. It began its nightly observations in March 2010. © 2010 SPIE. Source

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