The investigators will use observations of transiting planets in order to measure fundamental stellar and exoplanet parameters, and to measure higher-order effects of the star-planet interactions, such as irradiation, non-sphericity, phase lags, and transit timing variations. They will model measurements of light-curves using high-precision photometry provided by the Kepler mission, along with orbital dynamics codes, in order to constrain models of stellar and planetary structure. They will also perform multicolor photometry at nearby Mt. Laguna Observatory to complement the single color light curves from Kepler and ultimately provide better temperature and radii measurements of eclipsing binary stars.
The proposal explains that this work will have a broader significance to the field in that it will provide tools and detailed measurements of stellar properties at a higher precision than currently available. Since uncertainty in planetary masses and radii ultimately depends on how well the parent star's mass and radius are determined, analysis and modeling of the data on the stars will be useful to other exoplanetary projects. The investigators will also integrate research and education by involving undergraduate and graduate students and discuss their research in the classroom.