Timing by Stellar Pulsations as an Exoplanet Discovery Method
The stable oscillations of pulsating stars can serve as accurate timepieces, which may be monitored for the influence of exoplanets. An external companion gravitationally tugs the host star, causing periodic changes in pulsation arrival times. This method is most sensitive to detecting substellar companions around the hottest pulsating stars, especially compact remnants like white dwarfs and hot subdwarfs, as well as δ Scuti variables (A stars). However, it is applicable to any pulsating star with sufficiently stable oscillations. Care must be taken to ensure that the changes in pulsation arrival times are not caused by intrinsic stellar variability; an external, light-travel-time effect from an exoplanet identically affects all pulsation modes. With more long-baseline photometric campaigns coming online, this method is yielding new detections of substellar companions.
The author thanks Simon Murphy and Bart Dunlap for helpful discussions. Support for this work was provided by NASA through Hubble Fellowship grant #HST-HF2-51357.001-A.
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