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The Brightest Stars in Kepler and K2

eScience seminar room (6th Floor)

Benjamin Pope (NYU)

December 11 @ 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM


The Kepler mission and its continuation as K2 have revolutionized both the study of exoplanets and of stellar astrophysics, providing high-precision light curves of hundreds of thousands of stars. Kepler saturates at the eleventh magnitude, however, and naked-eye stars are far too saturated to observe conventionally. I will describe the ‘halo’ and ‘smear’ photometry algorithms, based respectively on Total Variation minimization and a subtle CCD bias, which nevertheless recover nearly normal quality light curves of stars as bright as the first-magnitude Aldebaran and Spica, the Pleiades, and hundreds of other bright stars in both Kepler and K2. Although we have not detected any transiting planets in this sample, we have revealed these bright stars to be ubiquitously variable, detecting classical pulsations, solar-like oscillations, binary and rotational modulation in nearly all stars. I will describe highlights of this survey, including a detailed study of bright red giants for use as spectroscopic benchmark stars, the discovery that Maia is not a Maia variable, and that the planet Aldebaran b may have been temperate in the distant past.