The Kepler mission was designed to measure the frequency of Earth-size planets in the habitable zone of Sun-like stars. A crucial component for recovering the underlying planet population from a sample of detected planets is understanding the completeness of that sample - the fraction of the planets that could have been discovered in a given data set that actually were detected. Here, we outline the information required to determine the sample completeness, and describe an experiment to address a specific aspect of that question, i.e., the issue of transit signal recovery. We investigate the extent to which the Kepler pipeline preserves individual transit signals by injecting simulated transits into the pixel-level data, processing the modified pixels through the pipeline, and comparing the measured transit signal-to-noise ratio (S/N) to that expected without perturbation by the pipeline. We inject simulated transit signals across the full focal plane for a set of observations for a duration of 89 days. On average, we find that the S/N of the injected signal is recovered at MS = 0.9973(± 0.0012) × BS-0.0151(± 0.0049), where MS is the measured S/N and BS is the baseline, or expected, S/N. The 1σ width of the distribution around this correlation is ±2.64%. This indicates an extremely high fidelity in reproducing the expected detection statistics for single transit events, and provides teams performing their own periodic transit searches the confidence that there is no systematic reduction in transit signal strength introduced by the pipeline. We discuss the pipeline processes that cause the measured S/N to deviate significantly from the baseline S/N for a small fraction of targets; these are primarily the handling of data adjacent to spacecraft re-pointings and the removal of harmonics prior to the measurement of the S/N. Finally, we outline the further work required to characterize the completeness of the Kepler pipeline.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science