First results of the Kourovka Planet Search: discovery of transiting exoplanet candidates in the first three target fields
We present the first results of our search for transiting exoplanet candidates as part of the Kourovka Planet Search (KPS) project. The primary objective of the project is to search for new hot Jupiters which transit their host stars, mainly in the Galactic plane, in the Rc magnitude range of 11-14 mag. Our observations were performed with the telescope of the MASTER robotic network, installed at the Kourovka astronomical observatory of the Ural Federal University (Russia), and the Rowe-Ackermann Schmidt Astrograph, installed at the private Acton Sky Portal Observatory (USA). As test observations, we observed three celestial fields of size 2 × 2 deg2 during the period from 2012 to 2015. As a result, we discovered four transiting exoplanet candidates among the 39 000 stars of the input catalogue. In this paper, we provide the description of the project and analyse additional photometric, spectral, and speckle interferometric observations of the discovered transiting exoplanet candidates. Three of the four transiting exoplanet candidates are most likely astrophysical false positives, while the nature of the fourth (most promising) candidate remains to be ascertained. Also, we propose an alternative observing strategy that could increase the project's exoplanet haul.