Simulations of starspot anomalies within TESS exoplanetary transit light curves. I. Detection limits of starspot anomalies in TESS light curves
Context. The primary targets of the NASA Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) are K and M dwarf stars within our solar neighbourhood. Young K and M dwarf stars are known to exhibit a high starspot coverage (≈50%), however, older stars are known to show fewer starspots. This implies that TESS transit light curves at 2 min cadence may contain starspot anomalies, and if so, will require transit-starspot models to determine accurately the properties of the system.
Aims: The goals are to determine if starspot anomalies can manifest in TESS transit light curves, to determine the detection limits of the starspot anomalies, and to examine the relationship between the change in flux caused by the starspot anomaly and the planetary transit.
Methods: We conducted 20 573 simulations of planetary transits around spotted stars using the transit-starspot model, PRISM. In total 3888 different scenarios were considered using three different host star spectral types, M4V, M1V, and K5V. The mean amplitude of the starspot anomaly was measured and compared to the photometric precision of the light curve to determine if the characteristic "blip" of the starspot anomaly was noticeable in the light curve.
Results: The simulations show that starspot anomalies are observable in TESS 2 min cadence data. The smallest starspot detectable in TESS transit light curves has a radius of ≈ 1900 km. The starspot detection limits for the three host stars are 4900 ± 1700 km (M4V), 13 800 ± 6000 km (M1V), and 15 900 ± 6800 km (K5V). The smallest change in flux of the starspot (ΔFspot = 0.00015 ± 0.00001) can be detected when the ratio of planetary to stellar radii k = 0.082 ± 0.004.
Conclusions: The results confirm known dependencies between the amplitude of the starspot anomaly and the photometric parameters of the light curve. The results facilitated the characterisation of the relationship between the change in flux of the starspot anomaly and the change in flux of the planetary transit for TESS transit light curves.
Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Pub Date:
- October 2019
- stars: late-type;
- stars: activity;
- planets and satellites: general;
- methods: numerical;
- techniques: photometric;
- Astrophysics - Earth and Planetary Astrophysics
- 24 Pages, 12 Figures. Accepted for publication in A&