Visual Analysis and Demographics of Kepler Transit Timing Variations

Mackenzie Kane, Darin Ragozzine, Xzavier Flowers, Tomer Holczer, Tsevi Mazeh, Howard M. Relles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We visually analyzed the transit timing variation (TTV) data of 5930 Kepler Objects of Interest (KOIs) homogeneously. Using data from Rowe et al. and Holczer et al., we investigated TTVs for nearly all KOIs in Kepler's Data Release 24 catalog. Using TTV plots, periodograms, and phase-folded quadratic plus sinusoid fits, we visually rated each KOI's TTV data in five categories. Our ratings emphasize the hundreds of planets with TTVs that are weaker than the ∼200 that have been studied in detail. Our findings are consistent with statistical methods for identifying strong TTVs, though we found some additional systems worth investigation. Between about 3-50 days and 1.3-6 Earth radii, the frequency of strong TTVs increases with period and radius. As expected, strong TTVs are very common when period ratios are near a resonance, but there is not a one-to-one correspondence. The observed planet-by-planet frequency of strong TTVs is only somewhat lower in systems with one or two known planets (7% ± 1%) than in systems with three or more known planets (11% ± 2%). We attribute TTVs to known planets in multitransiting systems but find ∼30 cases where the perturbing planet is unknown. Our conclusions are valuable as an ensemble for learning about planetary system architectures and individually as stepping stones toward more-detailed mass-radius constraints. We also discuss Data Release 25 TTVs, investigate ∼100 KOIs with transit duration and/or depth variations, and estimate that the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite will likely find only ∼10 planets with strong TTVs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number171
JournalAstronomical Journal
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2019


  • planetary systems
  • planets and satellites: dynamical evolution and stability


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