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A Bayesian Framework for Exoplanet Direct Detection and Non-detection

Ruffio, Jean-Baptiste and Mawet, Dimitri and Czekala, Ian and Macintosh, Bruce and De Rosa, Robert J. and Ruane, Garreth and Bottom, Michael and Pueyo, Laurent and Wang, Jason J. and Hirsch, Lea and Zhu, Zhaohuan and Nielsen, Eric L. (2018) A Bayesian Framework for Exoplanet Direct Detection and Non-detection. Astronomical Journal, 156 (5). Art. No. 196. ISSN 1538-3881. doi:10.3847/1538-3881/aade95.

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Rigorously quantifying the information in high-contrast imaging data is important for informing follow-up strategies to confirm the substellar nature of a point source, constraining theoretical models of planet–disk interactions, and deriving planet occurrence rates. However, within the exoplanet direct imaging community, non-detections have almost exclusively been defined using a frequentist detection threshold (i.e., contrast curve) and associated completeness. This can lead to conceptual inconsistencies when included in a Bayesian framework. A Bayesian upper limit is such that the true value of a parameter lies below this limit with a certain probability. The associated probability is the integral of the posterior distribution with the upper limit as the upper bound. In summary, a frequentist upper limit is a statement about the detectability of planets while a Bayesian upper limit is a statement about the probability of a parameter to lie in an interval given the data. The latter is therefore better suited for rejecting hypotheses or theoretical models based on their predictions. In this work we emphasize that Bayesian statistics and upper limits are more easily interpreted and typically more constraining than the frequentist approach. We illustrate the use of Bayesian analysis in two different cases: (1) with a known planet location where we also propose to use model comparison to constrain the astrophysical nature of the point source and (2) gap-carving planets in TW Hya. To finish, we also mention the problem of combining radial velocity and direct imaging observations.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription Paper
Ruffio, Jean-Baptiste0000-0003-2233-4821
Mawet, Dimitri0000-0002-8895-4735
Czekala, Ian0000-0002-1483-8811
Macintosh, Bruce0000-0003-1212-7538
De Rosa, Robert J.0000-0002-4918-0247
Ruane, Garreth0000-0003-4769-1665
Bottom, Michael0000-0003-1341-5531
Pueyo, Laurent0000-0003-3818-408X
Wang, Jason J.0000-0003-0774-6502
Hirsch, Lea0000-0001-8058-7443
Zhu, Zhaohuan0000-0003-3616-6822
Nielsen, Eric L.0000-0001-6975-9056
Additional Information:© 2018. The American Astronomical Society. Received 2018 June 14; revised 2018 August 30; accepted 2018 August 31; published 2018 October 12. This research was supported by grants from NSF, including AST-1411868 (J.-B.R., B.M.) and AST-1518332 (R.J.D.R.). Support was provided by grants from NASA, including NNX14AJ80G (B.M., J.-B.R.), NNX15AD95G (R.J.D.R.) and NNX15AC89G (R.J.D.R.). This work benefited from NASAs Nexus for Exoplanet System Science (NExSS) research coordination network sponsored by NASAs Science Mission Directorate. Facility: Keck:II(NIRC2). - Software: pyKLIP13 (Wang et al. 2015), astropy14 (Astropy Collaboration et al. 2013), Matplotlib15 (Hunter 2007).
Group:Astronomy Department
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and CosmologyUNSPECIFIED
NSF Graduate Research FellowshipUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:instrumentation: adaptive optics; instrumentation: high angular resolution; methods: statistical; planetary systems; planet–disk interactions; planets and satellites: detection
Issue or Number:5
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20181016-142931784
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Jean-Baptiste Ruffio et al 2018 AJ 156 196
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:90285
Deposited By: George Porter
Deposited On:16 Oct 2018 23:34
Last Modified:16 Nov 2021 03:31

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