Mass and Orbit Estimation Near the Detection Limit
Robert A. Brown (STScI)
An extrasolar planet’s orbit and mass have both scientific and practical significance: the values of these parameters help us better to understand the physical conditions on the planet and efficiently plan future analytic observations. However, estimating the mass and predicting the future planetary position are challenging for terrestrial planets in the habitable zone—especially for Earth-twins—due to rapid motion, orbital obscuration, and small signals by any technique. This presentation discusses a variety of related issues, particularly in the low signal-to-noise regime, approaching the detection limit. These issues include search completeness, the accuracy of estimates of mass and orbit, and the limitations due to the actual inventory of nearby stars.