Astron. J., 158, 4-4 (2019/July-0)
Improving orbit estimates for incomplete orbits with a new approach to priors: with applications from black holes to planets.
KOSMO O'NEIL K., MARTINEZ G.D., HEES A., GHEZ A.M., DO T., WITZEL G., KONOPACKY Q., BECKLIN E.E., CHU D.S., LU J.R., MATTHEWS K. and SAKAI S.
Abstract (from CDS):
We propose a new approach to Bayesian prior probability distributions (priors) that can improve orbital solutions for low-phase-coverage orbits, where data cover less than ∼40% of an orbit. In instances of low phase coverage-such as with stellar orbits in the Galactic center or with directly imaged exoplanets-data have low constraining power and thus priors can bias parameter estimates and produce underestimated confidence intervals. Uniform priors, which are commonly assumed in orbit fitting, are notorious for this. We propose a new observable-based prior paradigm that is based on uniformity in observables. We compare performance of this observable-based prior and of commonly assumed uniform priors using Galactic center and directly imaged exoplanet (HR 8799) data. The observable-based prior can reduce biases in model parameters by a factor of two and helps avoid underestimation of confidence intervals for simulations with less than ∼40% phase coverage. Above this threshold, orbital solutions for objects with sufficient phase coverage-such as S0-2, a short-period star at the Galactic center with full phase coverage-are consistent with previously published results. Below this threshold, the observable-based prior limits prior influence in regions of prior dominance and increases data influence. Using the observable-based prior, HR 8799 orbital analyses favor low-eccentricity orbits and provide stronger evidence that the four planets have a consistent inclination of ∼30° to within 1σ. This analysis also allows for the possibility of coplanarity. We present metrics to quantify improvements in orbital estimates with different priors so that observable-based prior frameworks can be tested and implemented for other low-phase-coverage orbits.
© 2019. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.
Galaxy: center - Galaxy: fundamental parameters - methods: statistical - planets and satellites: fundamental parameters
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