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K2 and the Microlensing Experiment

K2 and the Microlensing Experiment

I gave a 2016 NASA Ames Director's Colloquium Series talk. This was a mix of Kepler, K2 and Campaign 9 microlensing.

The NASA Kepler mission was launched in 2009 with the goal of detecting planets orbiting other stars. The scientific impact of this mission has been almost without peer, fundamentally changing the picture we have of our place in the Galaxy. After four years the Kepler mission ended and the telescope was repurposed as the K2 mission in 2014. K2 has emerged as an unlikely jewel in NASA’s astrophysics portfolio, facilitating scientific discoveries in a wide array of astronomy subfields, including galaxies, supernovae, open clusters, active galactic nuclei, Solar System planets and exoplanets.

During the summer of 2016, the K2 mission is undertaking a unique science experiment. Microlensing events occur when stars and planets pass in front of a background star and bend its light revealing the hitherto undetected foreground body. Observing a patch of sky close to the Galactic center simultaneously from Earth and the Kepler spacecraft is allowing scientists to see different lensing patterns which stem from the minutely different angle that Earth and Kepler perceive the background star. The K2 microlensing experiment will yield new Jupiter-like planet detections as well as many short-timescale microlensing events, which are indicative of free-floating planets. The parallax measurements will allow for the direct measurement of the masses of and distances to the lensing systems.

Dr. Barclay will share the story of how scientists and engineers worked around the clock to salvage the mission after its reaction wheels malfunctioned, turning it into a highly successful mission that is revolutionizing many fields of astronomy. He will discuss his experiences working on the Kepler and K2 Missions searching for other Earths, and will highlight the latest results from the K2 microlensing experiment that will pave the way for NASA’s WFIRST mission.


Tom Barclay

June 27, 2016

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  1. K2 and the Microlensing Experiment Tom Barclay NASA Ames Research

    Center July 5, 2016
  2. NASA’s Kepler Mission: What fraction of stars in our galaxy

    harbor potentially habitable, earth-size planets?
  3. Detecting Planets

  4. None
  5. Jupiter Earth

  6. * *

  7. * * March 6, 2009

  8. Go into space far away from Earth May 2009 –

    May 2013
  9. The Kepler Field of View May 2009 – May 2013

  10. Detecting Planets Orbital Period Relative Size of Planet

  11. Turning Pixels into Planets

  12. Exoplanet Detections, 1995-2009 Radius Relative to Earth Orbital Period in

    days Earth Jupiter
  13. Exoplanet Detections, 1995-2013 Radius Relative to Earth Orbital Period in

    days Earth Jupiter
  14. Exoplanet Detections, 2015 Earth >2300 Confirmed >4600 Candidates

  15. None
  16. 16

  17. Stare at the same field continuously

  18. Kepler Mechanical Failure Pointing requires 3 reaction wheels (x,y,z axes)

    Kepler launched with 4 = End of Prime Mission Failure #1 in June 2012 Failure #2 in May 2013
  19. 19

  20. The NASA K2 Mission Extending Kepler’s Legacy to the Ecliptic

  21. K2 is an extended mission utilizing two reaction wheels +

    solar pressure to balance the Kepler spacecraft to control pointing What is K2?
  22. Balancing Solar Pressure Top-down view

  23. 30° 53° Balancing Solar Pressure Spacecraft must keep solar panel

    pointed at the sun. Limits time it can stare at a single field to 80-90 days (depending on the spacecraft orbital phase)
  24. Each field is observed for approx. 80 days K2 Campaigns

  25. Current Status Senior Review 2014 Senior Review 2016 Campaign 9

  26. New Science in K2 The is no “K2 mission goal”,

    all science must be proposed by the community.
  27. None
  28. Giant Planets in the Solar System

  29. Bodies in the Outer Solar System Pal, Szabó, Szabó et

    al. (2014)
  30. The Pleiades

  31. Photometry of the Seven Sisters The Pleiades

  32. None
  33. K2 is Still an Exoplanet Powerhouse We have two main

    focus areas Finding exoplanets amenable to radial velocity follow-up Detecting exoplanet orbiting nearby cool stars
  34. Finding Exoplanet Targets for Followup

  35. Finding Exoplanets Around Cool Stars

  36. Finding Exoplanets Around Cool Stars

  37. K2 Microlensing Experiment

  38. What is Gravitational Microlensing? Lensing effect predicted by Einstein over

    70 years ago Used to determine mass of foreground objects (galaxies, stars, etc.)
  39. “The chance magnification of the light from a distant star

    by the distortion in spacetime due to the mass of a foreground star and its planets” Microlensing & the Hunt for Exoplanets
  40. Microlensing! 40

  41. 9 Microlensing Campaign 9 Spacecraft turned 180 degrees to point

    at Galactic Bulge
  42. 42

  43. None
  44. Bulge

  45. 45 Exoplanet Demographics

  46. Simultaneous Observations from Earth and Space Obtaining sufficient telescope resources

    was a key component to a successful campaign and our #1 risk
  47. *513 Microlensing Events as of today

  48. Preparation for WFIRST How many free-floating Earth-analogs will WFIRST detect?

    Free-floating Jupiter-analogs? K2 Microlensing experiment will provide early estimates Stay Tuned!
  49. None
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  52. Extra Slides

  53. 53

  54. Completing the Exoplanet Census

  55. Early Demonstration *513 Microlensing Events from C9

  56. K2 Microlensing Experiment artwork ©Jon Lomberg 2016

  57. Finding Exoplanet Targets for Followup

  58. Finding Exoplanet Targets for Followup

  59. Finding Exoplanet Targets for Followup

  60. WFIRST 60

  61. Check keplerscience.arc.nasa.gov for updates

  62. ‘Interesting’ targets in upcoming fields

  63. ‘Interesting’ targets in upcoming fields 2040 M-type stars; 1270 RR

    Lyr Variables; 1219 Quasars; 727 High proper-motion stars 280 Mira Variables; 252 Young Stellar Objects; 167 Active Galactic Nuclei; 152 White Dwarfs (3 pulsating); 133 Herbig Haro Objects; 71 T Tauri Stars; 57 Brown Dwarfs; 29 Blue Stragglers; 18 O-type stars; 16 Cataclysmic Variables; 11 Symbiotic Stars; 4 Wolf Rayet stars; 1 FU Orionis variable.
  64. Advocate for future fields - Positions of fields for Campaign

    14-18 are not yet set - Contact us to advocate for changes • [email protected] • keplerscience.arc.nasa.gov
  65. Photometric Performance Photometric performance from C3 onward is essentially the

    same as Kepler prime for bright stars Vanderburg et al. 2015, Ricker et al 2014, + Vanderburg, priv. comm. Yellow is K2 , blue is Kepler prime, black line is TESS predictions
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