References of "Defrere, Denis"
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See detailProxima Cen b: theoretical spectral signatures for different atmospheric scenarios
Defrere, Denis ULg

Speech/Talk (2016)

We consider several possible atmospheric compositions for our nearest neighboring planet, a.k.a. Proxima Can b, and compute the infrared spectrum with modern planetary atmosphere models. To be specific ... [more ▼]

We consider several possible atmospheric compositions for our nearest neighboring planet, a.k.a. Proxima Can b, and compute the infrared spectrum with modern planetary atmosphere models. To be specific, we consider (1) a bare planet, which has lost its atmosphere; (2) a water-ocean planet; (3) an Earth-analog planet; and (4) a planet similar to Earth but with a lower O2 pressure (< 1mbar) that produces a false positive for the triple signature (H20, O3, and CO2). We discuss the information in each infrared spectrum and the possibility to identify the nature of the atmospheres by remote sensing. The same exercise is performed for a rocky planet in the habitable zone of a K2V star, such as epsilon Eri. [less ▲]

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See detailUnveiling new stellar companions from the EXOZODI survey : follow up
Marion, Lindsay ULg; Absil, Olivier ULg; Ertel, Steve et al

Poster (2016, June 30)

In 2012, we have conducted a survey of nearby main sequence stars with VLTI/PIONIER to search for the presence of circumstellar dust. We focused on the use of the closure phases and the square ... [more ▼]

In 2012, we have conducted a survey of nearby main sequence stars with VLTI/PIONIER to search for the presence of circumstellar dust. We focused on the use of the closure phases and the square visibilities in a combined way to search for faint companions around the whole sample. In this process, we found four new stellar companions, for which we conducted follow-up observations in 2014. This follow up allows us to confirm the four detections, and to detect another new companion. Only the case of HD202730 remains ambiguous. [less ▲]

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See detailVortex Image Processing (VIP) package for high-contrast direct imaging
Gómez González, Carlos ULg; Absil, Olivier ULg; Wertz, Olivier ULg et al

Poster (2016, May 16)

VIP is a Python instrument-agnostic toolbox featuring a flexible framework for reproducible and robust data reduction. VIP currently supports three high-contrast imaging observational techniques: angular ... [more ▼]

VIP is a Python instrument-agnostic toolbox featuring a flexible framework for reproducible and robust data reduction. VIP currently supports three high-contrast imaging observational techniques: angular, reference-star and multi-spectral differential imaging. The code can be downloaded from our git repository on Github: http://github.com/vortex-exoplanet/VIP [less ▲]

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See detailModels of the η Corvi Debris Disk from the Keck Interferometer, Spitzer, and Herschel
Lebreton, J.; Beichman, C.; Bryden, G. et al

in Astrophysical Journal (2016), 817

Debris disks are signposts of analogs to small-body populations of the solar system, often, however, with much higher masses and dust production rates. The disk associated with the nearby star η Crv is ... [more ▼]

Debris disks are signposts of analogs to small-body populations of the solar system, often, however, with much higher masses and dust production rates. The disk associated with the nearby star η Crv is especially striking, as it shows strong mid- and far-infrared excesses despite an age of ∼1.4 Gyr. We undertake constructing a consistent model of the system that can explain a diverse collection of spatial and spectral data. We analyze Keck Interferometer Nuller measurements and revisit Spitzer and additional spectrophotometric data, as well as resolved Herschel images, to determine the dust spatial distribution in the inner exozodi and in the outer belt. We model in detail the two-component disk and the dust properties from the sub-AU scale to the outermost regions by fitting simultaneously all measurements against a large parameter space. The properties of the cold belt are consistent with a collisional cascade in a reservoir of ice-free planetesimals at 133 AU. It shows marginal evidence for asymmetries along the major axis. KIN enables us to establish that the warm dust consists of a ring that peaks between 0.2 and 0.8 AU. To reconcile this location with the ∼400 K dust temperature, very high albedo dust must be invoked, and a distribution of forsterite grains starting from micron sizes satisfies this criterion, while providing an excellent fit to the spectrum. We discuss additional constraints from the LBTI and near-infrared spectra, and we present predictions of what James Webb Space Telescope can unveil about this unusual object and whether it can detect unseen planets. [less ▲]

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See detailThe LEECH Exoplanet Imaging Survey: Characterization of the Coldest Directly Imaged Exoplanet, GJ 504 b, and Evidence for Superstellar Metallicity
Skemer, Andrew J.; Morley, Caroline V.; Zimmerman, Neil T. et al

in Astrophysical Journal (2016), 817

As gas giant planets and brown dwarfs radiate away the residual heat from their formation, they cool through a spectral type transition from L to T, which encompasses the dissipation of cloud opacity and ... [more ▼]

As gas giant planets and brown dwarfs radiate away the residual heat from their formation, they cool through a spectral type transition from L to T, which encompasses the dissipation of cloud opacity and the appearance of strong methane absorption. While there are hundreds of known T-type brown dwarfs, the first generation of directly imaged exoplanets were all L type. Recently, Kuzuhara et al. announced the discovery of GJ 504 b, the first T dwarf exoplanet. GJ 504 b provides a unique opportunity to study the atmosphere of a new type of exoplanet with a ˜500 K temperature that bridges the gap between the first directly imaged planets (˜1000 K) and our own solar system's Jupiter (˜130 K). We observed GJ 504 b in three narrow L-band filters (3.71, 3.88, and 4.00 μm), spanning the red end of the broad methane fundamental absorption feature (3.3 μm) as part of the LBTI Exozodi Exoplanet Common Hunt (LEECH) exoplanet imaging survey. By comparing our new photometry and literature photometry with a grid of custom model atmospheres, we were able to fit GJ 504 b's unusual spectral energy distribution for the first time. We find that GJ 504 b is well fit by models with the following parameters: T[SUB]eff[/SUB] = 544 ± 10 K, g < 600 m s[SUP]-2[/SUP], [M/H] = 0.60 ± 0.12, cloud opacity parameter of f[SUB]sed[/SUB] = 2-5, R = 0.96 ± 0.07 R[SUB]Jup[/SUB], and log(L) = -6.13 ± 0.03 L[SUB]⊙[/SUB], implying a hot start mass of 3-30 M[SUB]jup[/SUB] for a conservative age range of 0.1-6.5 Gyr. Of particular interest, our model fits suggest that GJ 504 b has a superstellar metallicity. Since planet formation can create objects with nonstellar metallicities, while binary star formation cannot, this result suggests that GJ 504 b formed like a planet, not like a binary companion. The LBT is an international collaboration among institutions in the United States, Italy, and Germany. LBT Corporation partners are the University of Arizona on behalf of the Arizona university system; Istituto Nazionale di Astrophisica, Italy; LBT Beteiligungsgesellschaft, Germany, representing the Max-Planck Society, the Astrophysical Institute Potsdam, and Heidelberg University; The Ohio State University, and the Research Corporation, on behalf of the University of Notre Dame, University of Minnesota, and University of Virginia. [less ▲]

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See detailThe LEECH Exoplanet Imaging Survey: Orbit and Component Masses of the Intermediate-age, Late-type Binary NO UMa
Schlieder, Joshua E.; Skemer, Andrew J.; Maire, Anne-Lise et al

in Astrophysical Journal (2016), 818

We present high-resolution Large Binocular Telescope LBTI/LMIRcam images of the spectroscopic and astrometric binary NO UMa obtained as part of the LBT Interferometer Exozodi Exoplanet Common Hunt ... [more ▼]

We present high-resolution Large Binocular Telescope LBTI/LMIRcam images of the spectroscopic and astrometric binary NO UMa obtained as part of the LBT Interferometer Exozodi Exoplanet Common Hunt exoplanet imaging survey. Our H-, K[SUB]s[/SUB]-, and L‧-band observations resolve the system at angular separations <0.″09. The components exhibit significant orbital motion over a span of ∼7 months. We combine our imaging data with archival images, published speckle interferometry measurements, and existing spectroscopic velocity data to solve the full orbital solution and estimate component masses. The masses of the K2.0 ± 0.5 primary and K6.5 ± 0.5 secondary are 0.83 ± 0.02 M[SUB]⊙[/SUB] and 0.64 ± 0.02 M[SUB]⊙[/SUB], respectively. We also derive a system distance of d = 25.87 ± 0.02 pc and revise the Galactic kinematics of NO UMa. Our revised Galactic kinematics confirm NO UMa as a nuclear member of the ∼500 Myr old Ursa Major moving group, and it is thus a mass and age benchmark. We compare the masses of the NO UMa binary components to those predicted by five sets of stellar evolution models at the age of the Ursa Major group. We find excellent agreement between our measured masses and model predictions with little systematic scatter between the models. NO UMa joins the short list of nearby, bright, late-type binaries having known ages and fully characterized orbits. Based on data obtained with the STELLA robotic telescope in Tenerife, an AIP facility jointly operated by AIP and IAC. [less ▲]

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See detailThe Inner Debris Structure in the Fomalhaut Planetary System
Su, Kate Y. L.; Rieke, George H.; Defrere, Denis ULg et al

in Astrophysical Journal (2016), 818

Fomalhaut plays an important role in the study of debris disks and small bodies in other planetary systems. The proximity and luminosity of the star make key features of its debris, like the water ice ... [more ▼]

Fomalhaut plays an important role in the study of debris disks and small bodies in other planetary systems. The proximity and luminosity of the star make key features of its debris, like the water ice line, accessible. Here we present ALMA cycle 1, 870 μm (345 GHz) observations targeted at the inner part of the Fomalhaut system with a synthesized beam of 0.″45 × 0.″37 (˜3 AU linear resolution at the distance of Fomalhaut) and an rms of 26 μJy beam[SUP]-1[/SUP]. The high angular resolution and sensitivity of the ALMA data enable us to place strong constraints on the nature of the warm excess revealed by Spitzer and Herschel observations. We detect a point source at the star position with a total flux consistent with thermal emission from the stellar photosphere. No structures that are brighter than 3σ are detected in the central 15 AU × 15 AU region. Modeling the spectral energy distribution using parameters expected for a dust-producing planetesimal belt indicates a radial location in the range of ˜8-15 AU. This is consistent with the location where ice sublimates in Fomalhaut, i.e., an asteroid-belt analog. The 3σ upper limit for such a belt is <1.3 mJy at 870 μm. We also interpret the 2 and 8-13 μm interferometric measurements to reveal the structure in the inner 10 AU region as dust naturally connected to this proposed asteroid belt by Poynting-Robertson drag, dust sublimation, and magnetically trapped nanograins. Fomalhaut is a triple system; here we refer to the Fomalhaut planetary system as the one around the primary star Fomalhaut A. [less ▲]

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See detailTwo Small Temperate Planets Transiting Nearby M Dwarfs in K2 Campaigns 0 and 1
Schlieder, Joshua E.; Crossfield, Ian J. M.; Petigura, Erik A. et al

in Astrophysical Journal (2016), 818

The prime Kepler mission revealed that small planets (<4 {R}[SUB]\oplus [/SUB]) are common, especially around low-mass M dwarfs. K2, the repurposed Kepler mission, continues this exploration of small ... [more ▼]

The prime Kepler mission revealed that small planets (<4 {R}[SUB]\oplus [/SUB]) are common, especially around low-mass M dwarfs. K2, the repurposed Kepler mission, continues this exploration of small planets around small stars. Here we combine K2 photometry with spectroscopy, adaptive optics imaging, and archival survey images to analyze two small planets orbiting the nearby field-age M dwarfs, K2-26 (EPIC 202083828) and K2-9. K2-26 is an {{M}}1.0+/- 0.5 dwarf at 93 ± 7 pc from K2 Campaign 0. We validate its planet with a day period of 14.5665 and estimate a radius of {2.67}[SUB]-0.42[/SUB][SUP]+0.46[/SUP] {R}[SUB]\oplus [/SUB]. K2-9 is an {{M}}2.5+/- 0.5 dwarf at 110 ± 12 pc from K2 Campaign 1. K2-9b was first identified by Montet et al.; here we present spectra and adaptive optics imaging of the host star and independently validate and characterize the planet. Our analyses indicate K2-9b is a {2.25}[SUB]-0.96[/SUB][SUP]+0.53[/SUP] {R}[SUB]\oplus [/SUB] planet with a 18.4498 day period. K2-26b exhibits a transit duration that is too long to be consistent with a circular orbit given its measured stellar radius. Thus, the long transits are likely due to the photoeccentric effect and our transit fits hint at an eccentric orbit. Both planets receive low incident flux from their host stars and have estimated equilibrium temperatures <500 K. K2-9b may receive approximately Earth-like insolation. However, its host star exhibits strong GALEX UV emission which could affect any atmosphere it harbors. K2-26b and K2-9b are representatives of a poorly studied class of small planets with cool temperatures that have radii intermediate to Earth and Neptune. Future study of these systems can provide key insight into trends in bulk composition and atmospheric properties at the transition from silicate dominated to volatile rich bodies. Based on observations collected at the European Organization for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere, La Silla Observatory, Chile during program ID 194.C-0443. [less ▲]

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See detailAn Accreting Protoplanet: Confirmation and Characterization of LkCa15b
Follette, Katherine B.; Miller Close, Laird; Males, Jared et al

in American Astronomical Society Meeting Abstracts (2016, January 01)

We present a visible light adaptive optics direct imaging detection of a faint point source separated by just 93 milliarcseconds (~15 AU) from the young star LkCa 15. Using Magellan AO's visible light ... [more ▼]

We present a visible light adaptive optics direct imaging detection of a faint point source separated by just 93 milliarcseconds (~15 AU) from the young star LkCa 15. Using Magellan AO's visible light camera in Simultaneous Differential Imaging (SDI) mode, we imaged the star at Hydrogen alpha and in the neighboring continuum as part of the Giant Accreting Protoplanet Survey (GAPplanetS) in November 2015. The continuum images provide a sensitive and simultaneous probe of PSF residuals and instrumental artifacts, allowing us to isolate H-alpha accretion luminosity from the LkCa 15b protoplanet, which lies well inside of the LkCa15 transition disk gap. This detection, combined with a nearly simultaneous near-infrared detection with the Large Binocular Telescope, provides an unprecedented glimpse at a planetary system during epoch of planet formation. [less ▲]

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See detailDoes Fomalhaut A Have an Asteroid-belt Analog?
Su, Kate Y. L.; Rieke, George; Defrere, Denis ULg et al

in American Astronomical Society Meeting Abstracts (2016, January 01)

Fomalhaut plays an important role in the study of debris disks and small bodies in other planetary systems. The proximity and luminosity of the star make key features of its debris like the water ice-line ... [more ▼]

Fomalhaut plays an important role in the study of debris disks and small bodies in other planetary systems. The proximity and luminosity of the star make key features of its debris like the water ice-line easily accessible. Here we present ALMA cycle 1, 870 μm (345 GHz) observation targeted at the inner part of the Fomalhaut system with a synthesized beam of 0.45"x0.37" (~3 AU linear resolution at the distance of Fomalhaut) and a rms of 26 μJy per beam. The high angular resolution and sensitivity of the ALMA data enable us to place strong constraints on the nature of the warm excess revealed by Spitzer and Herschel observations. We detect a point source at the star position with a total flux consistent with thermal emission from the stellar photosphere. No structures that are brighter than 3 σ are detected in the central 15 AUx15 AU region. Modeling the spectral energy distribution using parameters expected for a dust-producing planetesimal belt indicates a radial location in the range ˜8-15 AU. This is consistent with the location where ice sublimates in Fomalhaut, i.e., an asteroid-belt analog. We also provide a new interpretation for the emission structure in the inner 10 AU region revealed by interferometric measurements at 2 and 8-13 μm as dust naturally connected to this proposed asteroid belt by Poynting-Robertson drag, dust sublimation, and magnetically trapped nano grains. [less ▲]

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See detailA near-infrared interferometric survey of debris-disc stars. V. PIONIER search for variability
Ertel, S.; Defrere, Denis ULg; Absil, Olivier ULg et al

in Astronomy and Astrophysics (2016), 595(A44), 6

Context. Extended circumstellar emission has been detected within a few 100 milli-arcsec around ≳10% of nearby main sequence stars using near-infrared interferometry. Follow-up observations using other ... [more ▼]

Context. Extended circumstellar emission has been detected within a few 100 milli-arcsec around ≳10% of nearby main sequence stars using near-infrared interferometry. Follow-up observations using other techniques, should they yield similar results or non-detections, can provide strong constraints on the origin of the emission. They can also reveal the variability of the phenomenon. Aims: We aim to demonstrate the persistence of the phenomenon over the timescale of a few years and to search for variability of our previously detected excesses. Methods: Using Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI)/Precision Integrated Optics Near Infrared ExpeRiment (PIONIER) in H band we have carried out multi-epoch observations of the stars for which a near-infrared excess was previously detected using the same observation technique and instrument. The detection rates and distribution of the excesses from our original survey and the follow-up observations are compared statistically. A search for variability of the excesses in our time series is carried out based on the level of the broadband excesses. Results: In 12 of 16 follow-up observations, an excess is re-detected with a significance of > 2σ, and in 7 of 16 follow-up observations significant excess (> 3σ) is re-detected. We statistically demonstrate with very high confidence that the phenomenon persists for the majority of the systems. We also present the first detection of potential variability in two sources. Conclusions: We conclude that the phenomenon responsible for the excesses persists over the timescale of a few years for the majority of the systems. However, we also find that variability intrinsic to a target can cause it to have no significant excess at the time of a specific observation. [less ▲]

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See detailImaging protoplanets: observing transition disks with non-redundant masking
Sallum, S.; Eisner, J.; Close, L. M. et al

in Proceedings of SPIE (2016), 9907

Transition disks, protoplanetary disks with inner clearings, are promising objects in which to directly image forming planets. The high contrast imaging technique of non-redundant masking is well posed to ... [more ▼]

Transition disks, protoplanetary disks with inner clearings, are promising objects in which to directly image forming planets. The high contrast imaging technique of non-redundant masking is well posed to detect planetary mass companions at several to tens of AU in nearby transition disks. We present non-redundant masking observations of the T Cha and LkCa 15 transition disks, both of which host posited sub-stellar mass companions. However, due to a loss of information intrinsic to the technique, observations of extended sources (e.g. scattered light from disks) can be misinterpreted as moving companions. We discuss tests to distinguish between these two scenarios, with applications to the T Cha and LkCa 15 observations. We argue that a static, forward-scattering disk can explain the T Cha data, while LkCa 15 is best explained by multiple orbiting companions. [less ▲]

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See detailNulling Data Reduction and On-sky Performance of the Large Binocular Telescope Interferometer
Defrere, Denis ULg; Hinz, P. M.; Mennesson, B. et al

in Astrophysical Journal (2016), 824

The Large Binocular Telescope Interferometer (LBTI) is a versatile instrument designed for high angular resolution and high-contrast infrared imaging (1.5-13 μm). In this paper, we focus on the mid ... [more ▼]

The Large Binocular Telescope Interferometer (LBTI) is a versatile instrument designed for high angular resolution and high-contrast infrared imaging (1.5-13 μm). In this paper, we focus on the mid-infrared (8-13 μm) nulling mode and present its theory of operation, data reduction, and on-sky performance as of the end of the commissioning phase in 2015 March. With an interferometric baseline of 14.4 m, the LBTI nuller is specifically tuned to resolve the habitable zone of nearby main-sequence stars, where warm exozodiacal dust emission peaks. Measuring the exozodi luminosity function of nearby main-sequence stars is a key milestone to prepare for future exo-Earth direct imaging instruments. Thanks to recent progress in wavefront control and phase stabilization, as well as in data reduction techniques, the LBTI demonstrated in 2015 February a calibrated null accuracy of 0.05% over a 3 hr long observing sequence on the bright nearby A3V star β Leo. This is equivalent to an exozodiacal disk density of 15-30 zodi for a Sun-like star located at 10 pc, depending on the adopted disk model. This result sets a new record for high-contrast mid-infrared interferometric imaging and opens a new window on the study of planetary systems. [less ▲]

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See detailPrecise radial velocities of giant stars IX. HD 59686 Ab: a massive circumstellar planet orbiting a giant star in a \~13.6 au eccentric binary system
Ortiz, M.; Reffert, S.; Trifonov, T. et al

in Astronomy and Astrophysics (2016), 595(A55), 14

Context. For over 12 yr, we have carried out a precise radial velocity (RV) survey of a sample of 373 G- and K-giant stars using the Hamilton Échelle Spectrograph at the Lick Observatory. There are, among ... [more ▼]

Context. For over 12 yr, we have carried out a precise radial velocity (RV) survey of a sample of 373 G- and K-giant stars using the Hamilton Échelle Spectrograph at the Lick Observatory. There are, among others, a number of multiple planetary systems in our sample as well as several planetary candidates in stellar binaries. Aims: We aim at detecting and characterizing substellar and stellar companions to the giant star HD 59686 A (HR 2877, HIP 36616). Methods: We obtained high-precision RV measurements of the star HD 59686 A. By fitting a Keplerian model to the periodic changes in the RVs, we can assess the nature of companions in the system. To distinguish between RV variations that are due to non-radial pulsation or stellar spots, we used infrared RVs taken with the CRIRES spectrograph at the Very Large Telescope. Additionally, to characterize the system in more detail, we obtained high-resolution images with LMIRCam at the Large Binocular Telescope. Results: We report the probable discovery of a giant planet with a mass of mp sin i = 6.92-0.24+0.18 MJup orbiting at ap = 1.0860-0.0007+0.0006 au from the giant star HD 59686 A. In addition to the planetary signal, we discovered an eccentric (eB = 0.729-0.003+0.004) binary companion with a mass of mB sin i = 0.5296-0.0008+0.0011 M⊙ orbiting at a close separation from the giant primary with a semi-major axis of aB = 13.56-0.14+0.18 au. Conclusions: The existence of the planet HD 59686 Ab in a tight eccentric binary system severely challenges standard giant planet formation theories and requires substantial improvements to such theories in tight binaries. Otherwise, alternative planet formation scenarios such as second-generation planets or dynamical interactions in an early phase of the system's lifetime need to be seriously considered to better understand the origin of this enigmatic planet. [less ▲]

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See detail197 Candidates and 104 Validated Planets in K2\rsquos First Five Fields
Crossfield, I. J. M.; Ciardi, D. R.; Petigura, E. A. et al

in Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series (2016), 226

We present 197 planet candidates discovered using data from the first year of the NASA K2 mission (Campaigns 0-4), along with the results of an intensive program of photometric analyses, stellar ... [more ▼]

We present 197 planet candidates discovered using data from the first year of the NASA K2 mission (Campaigns 0-4), along with the results of an intensive program of photometric analyses, stellar spectroscopy, high-resolution imaging, and statistical validation. We distill these candidates into sets of 104 validated planets (57 in multi-planet systems), 30 false positives, and 63 remaining candidates. Our validated systems span a range of properties, with median values of R P = 2.3 {R}\oplus , P = 8.6 days, {T}{eff} = 5300 K, and Kp = 12.7 mag. Stellar spectroscopy provides precise stellar and planetary parameters for most of these systems. We show that K2 has increased by 30% the number of small planets known to orbit moderately bright stars (1-4 R ⊕, Kp = 9-13 mag). Of particular interest are 76 planets smaller than 2 R ⊕, 15 orbiting stars brighter than Kp = 11.5 mag, 5 receiving Earth-like irradiation levels, and several multi-planet systems—including 4 planets orbiting the M dwarf K2-72 near mean-motion resonances. By quantifying the likelihood that each candidate is a planet we demonstrate that our candidate sample has an overall false positive rate of 15%-30%, with rates substantially lower for small candidates (\lt 2{R}\oplus ) and larger for candidates with radii \gt 8{R}\oplus and/or with P\lt 3 {{days}}. Extrapolation of the current planetary yield suggests that K2 will discover between 500 and 1000 planets in its planned four-year mission, assuming sufficient follow-up resources are available. Efficient observing and analysis, together with an organized and coherent follow-up strategy, are essential for maximizing the efficacy of planet-validation efforts for K2, TESS, and future large-scale surveys. [less ▲]

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See detailAccreting protoplanets in the LkCa 15 transition disk
Sallum, S.; Follette, K. B.; Eisner, J. A. et al

in Nature (2015), 527

Exoplanet detections have revolutionized astronomy, offering new insights into solar system architecture and planet demographics. While nearly 1,900 exoplanets have now been discovered and confirmed, none ... [more ▼]

Exoplanet detections have revolutionized astronomy, offering new insights into solar system architecture and planet demographics. While nearly 1,900 exoplanets have now been discovered and confirmed, none are still in the process of formation. Transition disks, protoplanetary disks with inner clearings best explained by the influence of accreting planets, are natural laboratories for the study of planet formation. Some transition disks show evidence for the presence of young planets in the form of disk asymmetries or infrared sources detected within their clearings, as in the case of LkCa 15 (refs 8, 9). Attempts to observe directly signatures of accretion onto protoplanets have hitherto proven unsuccessful. Here we report adaptive optics observations of LkCa 15 that probe within the disk clearing. With accurate source positions over multiple epochs spanning 2009-2015, we infer the presence of multiple companions on Keplerian orbits. We directly detect Hα emission from the innermost companion, LkCa 15 b, evincing hot (about 10,000 kelvin) gas falling deep into the potential well of an accreting protoplanet. [less ▲]

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See detailHunting for Planets in the HL Tau Disk
Testi, L.; Skemer, A.; Henning, Th et al

in Astrophysical Journal Letters (2015), 812

Recent ALMA images of HL Tau show gaps in the dusty disk that may be caused by planetary bodies. Given the young age of this system, if confirmed, this finding would imply very short timescales for planet ... [more ▼]

Recent ALMA images of HL Tau show gaps in the dusty disk that may be caused by planetary bodies. Given the young age of this system, if confirmed, this finding would imply very short timescales for planet formation, probably in a gravitationally unstable disk. To test this scenario, we searched for young planets by means of direct imaging in the L‧ band using the Large Binocular Telescope Interferometer mid-infrared camera. At the location of two prominent dips in the dust distribution at ˜70 AU (˜0.″5) from the central star, we reach a contrast level of ˜7.5 mag. We did not detect any point sources at the location of the rings. Using evolutionary models we derive upper limits of ˜10-15 M[SUB]Jup[/SUB] at ≤0.5-1 Ma for the possible planets. With these sensitivity limits we should have been able to detect companions sufficiently massive to open full gaps in the disk. The structures detected at millimeter wavelengths could be gaps in the distributions of large grains on the disk midplane caused by planets not massive enough to fully open the gaps. Future ALMA observations of the molecular gas density profile and kinematics as well as higher contrast infrared observations may be able to provide a definitive answer. [less ▲]

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See detailExoplanet science with the LBTI: instrument status and plans
Defrere, Denis ULg; Hinz, P.; Skemer, A. et al

in Shaklan, Stuart (Ed.) Techniques and Instrumentation for Detection of Exoplanets VII (2015, September 16)

The Large Binocular Telescope Interferometer (LBTI) is a strategic instrument of the LBT designed for high-sensitivity, high-contrast, and high-resolution infrared (1.5-13 $\mu$m) imaging of nearby ... [more ▼]

The Large Binocular Telescope Interferometer (LBTI) is a strategic instrument of the LBT designed for high-sensitivity, high-contrast, and high-resolution infrared (1.5-13 $\mu$m) imaging of nearby planetary systems. To carry out a wide range of high-spatial resolution observations, it can combine the two AO-corrected 8.4-m apertures of the LBT in various ways including direct (non-interferometric) imaging, coronagraphy (APP and AGPM), Fizeau imaging, non-redundant aperture masking, and nulling interferometry. It also has broadband, narrowband, and spectrally dispersed capabilities. In this paper, we review the performance of these modes in terms of exoplanet science capabilities and describe recent instrumental milestones such as first-light Fizeau images (with the angular resolution of an equivalent 22.8-m telescope) and deep interferometric nulling observations. [less ▲]

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See detailImpact of ηEarth on the Capabilities of Affordable Space Missions to Detect Biosignatures on Extrasolar Planets
Léger, Alain; Defrere, Denis ULg; Malbet, Fabien et al

in Astrophysical Journal (2015), 808

We present an analytic model to estimate the capabilities of space missions dedicated to the search for biosignatures in the atmosphere of rocky planets located in the habitable zone of nearby stars ... [more ▼]

We present an analytic model to estimate the capabilities of space missions dedicated to the search for biosignatures in the atmosphere of rocky planets located in the habitable zone of nearby stars. Relations between performance and mission parameters, such as mirror diameter, distance to targets, and radius of planets, are obtained. Two types of instruments are considered: coronagraphs observing in the visible, and nulling interferometers in the thermal infrared. Missions considered are: single-pupil coronagraphs with a 2.4 m primary mirror, and formation-flying interferometers with 4 × 0.75 m collecting mirrors. The numbers of accessible planets are calculated as a function of η[SUB]Earth[/SUB]. When Kepler gives its final estimation for η[SUB]Earth[/SUB], the model will permit a precise assessment of the potential of each instrument. Based on current estimations, η[SUB]Earth[/SUB] = 10% around FGK stars and 50% around M stars, the coronagraph could study in spectroscopy only ∼1.5 relevant planets, and the interferometer ∼14.0. These numbers are obtained under the major hypothesis that the exozodiacal light around the target stars is low enough for each instrument. In both cases, a prior detection of planets is assumed and a target list established. For the long-term future, building both types of spectroscopic instruments, and using them on the same targets, will be the optimal solution because they provide complementary information. But as a first affordable space mission, the interferometer looks the more promising in terms of biosignature harvest. [less ▲]

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