Statistical Methods for Detecting Stellar Occultations by Kuiper Belt Objects: the Taiwanese-American Occultation Survey

September, 2002
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Steven N. Evans

The Taiwanese-American Occultation Survey (TAOS) will detect objects in the Kuiper Belt, by measuring the rate of occultations of stars by these objects, using an array of three to four 50cm wide-field robotic telescopes. Thousands of stars will be monitored, resulting in hundreds of millions of photometric measurements per night. To optimize the success of TAOS, we have investigated various methods of gathering and processing the data and developed statistical methods for detecting occultations. In this paper we discuss these methods. The resulting estimated detection efficiencies will be used to guide the choice of various operational parameters determining the mode of actual observation when the telescopes come on line and begin routine observations. In particular we show how real-time detection algorithms may be constructed, taking advantage of having multiple telescopes. We also discuss a retrospective method for estimating the rate at which occultations occur.

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