Observing extrasolar planetary transits is one of the only ways that we may infer the masses and radii of planets outside the Solar System. As such, the detections made by photometric transit surveys are one of the only foreseeable ways that the areas of planetary interiors, system dynamics, migration, and formation will acquire more data. Predicting the yields of these surveys therefore serves as a useful statistical tool. Predictions allows us to check the efficiency of transit surveys (“are we detecting all that we should?”) and to test our understanding of the relevant astrophysics (“what parameters affect predictions?”). Furthermore, just the raw numbers of how many planets will be detected by a survey can be interesting in its own right. Here, we look at two different approaches to modeling predictions (forward and backward), and examine three different transit surveys (TrES, XO, and Kepler). In all cases, making predictions provides valuable insight into both extrasolar planets and the surveys themselves, but this must be tempered by an appreciation of the uncertainties in the statistical cut-offs used by the transit surveys.
- Pub Date:
- February 2009
- To appear in the Proceedings of the 253rd IAU Symposium: "Transiting Planets", May 2008, Cambridge, MA. 7 pages, 2 figures, 2 tables