Transit Photometry as an Exoplanet Discovery Method

  • Hans J. DeegEmail author
  • Roi Alonso
Reference work entry


Photometry with the transit method has arguably been the most successful exoplanet discovery method to date. A short overview about the rise of that method to its present status is given. The method’s strength is the rich set of parameters that can be obtained from transiting planets, in particular in combination with radial velocity observations; the basic principles of these parameters are given. The method has however also drawbacks, which are the low probability that transits appear in randomly oriented planet systems and the presence of astrophysical phenomena that may mimic transits and give rise to false detection positives. In the second part, we outline the main factors that determine the design of transit surveys, such as the size of the survey sample, the temporal coverage, the detection precision, the sample brightness and the methods to extract transit events from observed light curves. Lastly, an overview over past, current, and future transit surveys is given. For these surveys we indicate their basic instrument configuration and their planet catch, including the ranges of planet sizes and stellar magnitudes that were encountered. Current and future transit detection experiments concentrate primarily on bright or special targets, and we expect that the transit method remains a principal driver of exoplanet science, through new discoveries to be made and through the development of new generations of instruments.



Financial support by the Spanish Secretary of State for R&D&i (MINECO) is acknowledged by HD under the grant ESP2015-65712-C5-4-R and by RA for the Ramón y Cajal program RYC-2010-06519 and the programs RETOS ESP2014-57495-C2-1-R and ESP2016-80435-C2-2-R. This contribution has benefited from the use of the NASA Exoplanet Archive and the Extrasolar Planets Encyclopaedia, and the authors acknowledge the people behind these tools.


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Instituto de Astrofísica de CanariasLa LagunaSpain
  2. 2.Departamento de AstrofísicaUniversidad de La LagunaLa LagunaSpain

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