Future generations of precise radial velocity (RV) surveys aim to achieve sensitivity sufficient to detect Earth mass planets orbiting in their stars' habitable zones. A major obstacle to this goal is astrophysical RV noise caused by active areas moving across the stellar limb as a star rotates. In this paper, we quantify how stellar activity impacts exoplanet detection with radial velocities as a function of orbital and stellar rotational periods. We perform data-driven simulations of how stellar rotation affects planet detectability and compile and present relations for the typical time-scale and amplitude of stellar RV noise as a function of stellar mass. We show that the characteristic time-scales of quasi-periodic RV jitter from stellar rotational modulations coincides with the orbital period of habitable-zone exoplanets around early M-dwarfs. These coincident periods underscore the importance of monitoring the targets of RV habitable-zone planet surveys through simultaneous photometric measurements for determining rotation periods and activity signals, and mitigating activity signals using spectroscopic indicators and/or RV measurements at different wavelengths.


Physics, Astronomy, and Materials Science

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This article has been accepted for publication in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society ©: 2016 The authors. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.


radial velocities, planet detection

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Recommended Citation

Vanderburg, Andrew, Peter Plavchan, John Asher Johnson, David R. Ciardi, Jonathan Swift, and Stephen R. Kane. "Radial velocity planet detection biases at the stellar rotational period." Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 459, no. 4 (2016): 3565-3573.

Journal Title

Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society