Vol 13, No 10 (2013) / Zhao

Parametrized post-Newtonian secular transit timing variations for exoplanets

Shan-Shan Zhao, Yi Xie


Ground-based and space-borne observatories used for studying exoplanet transits now and in the future will considerably increase the number of exoplanets known from transit data and the precision of the measured times of transit minima. Variations in the transit times can not only be used to infer the presence of additional planets, but might also provide opportunities to test the general theory of relativity in these systems. To build a framework for these possible tests, we extend previous studies on the observability of the general relativistic precessions of periastron in transiting exoplanets to variations in secular transit timing under parametrized post-Newtonian formalism. We find that if one can measure the difference between observed and predicted variations of general relativistic secular transit timing to 1 s yr−1 in a transiting exoplanet system with a Sun-like mass, a period of ~ 1 day and a relatively small eccentricity of ~ 0.1, general relativity will be tested to the level of ~ 6%.


gravitation — celestial mechanics — planetary systems

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