Optical phase curves of kepler exoplanets

Lisa J. Esteves, Ernst J.W. De Mooij, Ray Jayawardhana

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

96 Citations (Scopus)


We conducted a comprehensive search for optical phase variations of all close-in (a/R * < 10) planet candidates in 15 quarters of Kepler space telescope data. After correcting for systematics, we found eight systems that show secondary eclipses as well as phase variations. Of these, five (Kepler-5, Kepler-6, Kepler-8, KOI-64, and KOI-2133) are new and three (TrES-2, HAT-P-7, and KOI-13) have published phase curves, albeit with many fewer observations. We model the full phase curve of each planet candidate, including the primary and secondary transits, and derive their albedos, dayside and nightside temperatures, ellipsoidal variations, and Doppler beaming. We find that KOI-64 and KOI-2133 have nightside temperatures well above their equilibrium values (while KOI-2133 also has an albedo, >1), so we conclude that they are likely to be self-luminous objects rather than planets. The other six candidates have characteristics consistent with their being planets with low geometric albedos (<0.3). For TrES-2 and KOI-13, the Kepler bandpass appears to probe atmospheric layers hotter than the planet's equilibrium temperature. For KOI-13, we detect a never-before-seen third cosine harmonic with an amplitude of 6.7 ± 0.3 ppm and a phase shift of -1.1 ± 0.1 rad in the phase curve residual, possibly due to its spin-orbit misalignment. We report derived planetary parameters for all six planets, including masses from ellipsoidal variations and Doppler beaming, and compare our results to published values when available. Our results nearly double the number of Kepler exoplanets with measured phase curve variations, thus providing valuable constraints on the properties of hot Jupiters.

Original languageEnglish
Article number51
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jul 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • planets and satellites: individual (Kepler-5, Kepler-6, Kepler-8, KOI-64, KOI-2133, TrES-2, HAT-P-7)
  • stars: individual (Kepler-5, Kepler-6, Kepler-8, KOI-64, KOI-2133, TrES-2, HAT-P-7)
  • techniques: photometric

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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