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gaia data release 3 documentation

10.10 Planetary transits

10.10.1 Introduction

WARNING: on 23 June 2022, the table vari_planetary_transit that was published on 13 June 2022 as part of Gaia DR3 was found to contain serious errors and users were advised not to use it (see the known issue reported here). This warning applied to the table served from the Gaia ESA Archive as well as to the data served from the bulk download repository.

On 7 February 2023, a corrected dataset has been uploaded to the Gaia ESA Archive. At that time, the following name changes have been applied:

  • Gaia ESA Archive: the original, erroneous table has been renamed from vari_planetary_transit to vari_planetary_transit_13june2022. This table shall not be used and is preserved purely for completeness and to guarantee traceability and reproducibility.

  • Gaia ESA Archive: the new, corrected table has been made available with the original name vari_planetary_transit.

  • Bulk download repository: the folder that stores the original, erroneous data has been renamed from /Gaia/gdr3/Variability/vari_planetary_transit/ to /Gaia/gdr3/Variability/vari_planetary_transit_13june2022/. At the same time, all files in that folder have been renamed from VariPlanetaryTransit_*.csv.gz to VariPlanetaryTransit13June2022_*.csv.gz. None of these files shall be used and they are preserved purely for completeness and to guarantee traceability and reproducibility.

  • Bulk download repository: the new, corrected data has been made available in the folder with the original name /Gaia/gdr3/Variability/vari_planetary_transit/. The file names of the corrected data also follow the original file names, for instance VariPlanetaryTransit_*.csv.gz.

The detection of transiting exoplanets is done by searching for periodic dimmings in the light curve of the host star. As of the year 2022, close to 4000 transiting exoplanets have been discovered. In Gaia DR3, the first catalogue of transiting exoplanets candidates detected using Gaia photometry is released (see table vari_planetary_transit), containing 173 known exoplanets with visible transits in the Gaia data and 41 new candidates, with two of them already confirmed by radial velocity measurements. A more detailed description of the discovery process can be found in Panahi et al. (2022). The parameters of the 173 known exoplanets in the catalogue do not necessarily match the known, nominal parameters for these planets, since the calculations were done using only the Gaia photometry, with no additional prior data. They are still included in the catalogue for the sake of making their light curves publicly available, which might help with refining the ephemerides.

Being an astrometric mission, Gaia is not designed for detecting transiting exoplanets. However, it is certainly capable of doing so, and this capability would only improve in the next data releases, when more data becomes available.