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APF-50: A Robotic Search for Earth's Nearest Neighbors.

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Title:APF-50: A Robotic Search for Earth's Nearest Neighbors.
Authors:Fulton, Benjamin J.
Contributors:Astronomy (department)
Date Issued:Aug 2017
Publisher:University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Abstract:The discovery of thousands of exoplanets during the past decade opened the door to detailed
studies of exoplanet demographics. Now we are able to group planets into di erent categories
based on observable characteristics and study population-level properties. Patterns and trends in
the known population of planets are emerging which provide insight into the processes that drive the
formation and evolution of exoplanets. In this work we develop the tools necessary to discover and
accurately characterize a statistically useful sample of exoplanets. We use these tools to discover
several new planets and examine the mass function of small planets orbiting bright, nearby stars.
By leveraging the fully-robotic Automated Planet Finder telescope, we conduct the \APF-50"
Doppler survey which provides greater sensitivity to low-mass planets than was previously possible
with classically-scheduled instruments. We study the planet population orbiting stars similar to
our sun and also the ultimate fate of these planetary systems by searching for planets orbiting white
dwarfs. To date, the statistical power of NASA's Kepler mission remains unmatched due to the
shear number of planet detections and unprecedented sensitivity to small planets. We utilize the
Kepler dataset combined with high-resolution spectroscopy from Keck Observatory to re-examine
the radius function of small planets in ne detail. We nd that planets between the size of Earth
and Neptune typically fall into one of two distinct size groups. We discuss the implications of
these ndings by comparing to the mass function of small planets measured by the APF-50 survey
and nd that we are only just beginning to scratch the surface of the population of small planets
that Kepler found to be so prevalent. This discovery supports the emerging picture that closein
planets smaller than Neptune are composed of rocky cores measuring 1.5 R or smaller with
varying amounts of low-density gas that determines their total sizes.
Description:Ph.D. Thesis. University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa 2017.
Rights:All UHM dissertations and theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from this source for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without written permission from the copyright owner.
Appears in Collections: Ph.D. - Astronomy

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