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See detailAnalysis of Spin-Orbit Alignment in the WASP-32, WASP-38, and HAT-P-27/WASP-40 Systems
Brown, D. J. A.; Collier Cameron, A.; Díaz, R. F. et al

in Astrophysical Journal (2012), 760

We present measurements of the spin-orbit alignment angle, λ, for the hot Jupiter systems WASP-32, WASP-38, and HAT-P-27/WASP-40, based on data obtained using the HARPS spectrograph. We analyze the ... [more ▼]

We present measurements of the spin-orbit alignment angle, λ, for the hot Jupiter systems WASP-32, WASP-38, and HAT-P-27/WASP-40, based on data obtained using the HARPS spectrograph. We analyze the Rossiter-McLaughlin effect for all three systems and also carry out Doppler tomography for WASP-32 and WASP-38. We find that WASP-32 (T [SUB]eff[/SUB] = 6140[SUP]+90[/SUP] [SUB]- 100[/SUB] K) is aligned, with an alignment angle of λ = 10fdg5[SUP] + 6.4[/SUP] [SUB] - 6.5[/SUB] obtained through tomography, and that WASP-38 (T [SUB]eff[/SUB] = 6180[SUP]+40[/SUP] [SUB]- 60[/SUB] K) is also aligned, with tomographic analysis yielding λ = 7fdg5[SUP] + 4.7[/SUP] [SUB] - 6.1[/SUB]. The latter result provides an order-of-magnitude improvement in the uncertainty in λ compared to the previous analysis of Simpson et al. We are only able to loosely constrain the angle for HAT-P-27/WASP-40 (T [SUB]eff[/SUB] = 5190[SUP]+160[/SUP] [SUB]- 170[/SUB] K) to λ = 24fdg2[SUP] + 76.0[/SUP] [SUB] - 44.5[/SUB], owing to the poor signal-to-noise ratio of our data. We consider this result a non-detection under a slightly updated version of the alignment test of Brown et al. We place our results in the context of the full sample of spin-orbit alignment measurements, finding that they provide further support for previously established trends. Based on observations (under proposal 087.C-0649) made using the HARPS High Resolution Échelle Spectrograph mounted on the ESO 3.6 m at the ESO La Silla observatory. [less ▲]

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See detailThe Pair Beam Production Spectrum from Photon-Photon Annihilation in Cosmic Voids
Schlickeiser, Reinhard; Elyiv, Andrii ULg; Ibscher, D et al

in Astrophysical Journal (2012), 758(2), 18

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See detailA New Type of Ambiguity in the Planet and Binary Interpretations of Central Perturbations of High-magnification Gravitational Microlensing Events
Choi, J.-Y.; Shin, I.-G.; Han, C. et al

in Astrophysical Journal (2012), 756

High-magnification microlensing events provide an important channel to detect planets. Perturbations near the peak of a high-magnification event can be produced either by a planet or a binary companion ... [more ▼]

High-magnification microlensing events provide an important channel to detect planets. Perturbations near the peak of a high-magnification event can be produced either by a planet or a binary companion. It is known that central perturbations induced by both types of companions can be generally distinguished due to the essentially different magnification pattern around caustics. In this paper, we present a case of central perturbations for which it is difficult to distinguish the planetary and binary interpretations. The peak of a lensing light curve affected by this perturbation appears to be blunt and flat. For a planetary case, this perturbation occurs when the source trajectory passes the negative perturbation region behind the back end of an arrowhead-shaped central caustic. For a binary case, a similar perturbation occurs for a source trajectory passing through the negative perturbation region between two cusps of an astroid-shaped caustic. We demonstrate the degeneracy for two high-magnification events of OGLE-2011-BLG-0526 and OGLE-2011-BLG-0950/MOA-2011-BLG-336. For OGLE-2011-BLG-0526, the χ[SUP]2[/SUP] difference between the planetary and binary model is ~3, implying that the degeneracy is very severe. For OGLE-2011-BLG-0950/MOA-2011-BLG-336, the stellar binary model is formally excluded with Δχ[SUP]2[/SUP] ~ 105 and the planetary model is preferred. However, it is difficult to claim a planet discovery because systematic residuals of data from the planetary model are larger than the difference between the planetary and binary models. Considering that two events observed during a single season suffer from such a degeneracy, it is expected that central perturbations experiencing this type of degeneracy is common. [less ▲]

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See detailSeismic Evidence for a Rapidly Rotating Core in a Lower-giant-branch Star Observed with Kepler
Deheuvels, S.; García, R. A.; Chaplin, W. J. et al

in Astrophysical Journal (2012), 756

Rotation is expected to have an important influence on the structure and the evolution of stars. However, the mechanisms of angular momentum transport in stars remain theoretically uncertain and very ... [more ▼]

Rotation is expected to have an important influence on the structure and the evolution of stars. However, the mechanisms of angular momentum transport in stars remain theoretically uncertain and very complex to take into account in stellar models. To achieve a better understanding of these processes, we desperately need observational constraints on the internal rotation of stars, which until very recently was restricted to the Sun. In this paper, we report the detection of mixed modes—i.e., modes that behave both as g modes in the core and as p modes in the envelope—in the spectrum of the early red giant KIC 7341231, which was observed during one year with the Kepler spacecraft. By performing an analysis of the oscillation spectrum of the star, we show that its non-radial modes are clearly split by stellar rotation and we are able to determine precisely the rotational splittings of 18 modes. We then find a stellar model that reproduces very well the observed atmospheric and seismic properties of the star. We use this model to perform inversions of the internal rotation profile of the star, which enables us to show that the core of the star is rotating at least five times faster than the envelope. This will shed new light on the processes of transport of angular momentum in stars. In particular, this result can be used to place constraints on the angular momentum coupling between the core and the envelope of early red giants, which could help us discriminate between the theories that have been proposed over the last few decades. [less ▲]

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See detailCharacterizing Low-mass Binaries from Observation of Long-timescale Caustic-crossing Gravitational Microlensing Events
Shin, I.-G.; Han, C.; Choi, J.-Y. et al

in Astrophysical Journal (2012), 755

Despite the astrophysical importance of binary star systems, detections are limited to those located in small ranges of separations, distances, and masses and thus it is necessary to use a variety of ... [more ▼]

Despite the astrophysical importance of binary star systems, detections are limited to those located in small ranges of separations, distances, and masses and thus it is necessary to use a variety of observational techniques for a complete view of stellar multiplicity across a broad range of physical parameters. In this paper, we report the detections and measurements of two binaries discovered from observations of microlensing events MOA-2011-BLG-090 and OGLE-2011-BLG-0417. Determinations of the binary masses are possible by simultaneously measuring the Einstein radius and the lens parallax. The measured masses of the binary components are 0.43 M [SUB]&sun;[/SUB] and 0.39 M [SUB]&sun;[/SUB] for MOA-2011-BLG-090 and 0.57 M [SUB]&sun;[/SUB] and 0.17 M [SUB]&sun;[/SUB] for OGLE-2011-BLG-0417 and thus both lens components of MOA-2011-BLG-090 and one component of OGLE-2011-BLG-0417 are M dwarfs, demonstrating the usefulness of microlensing in detecting binaries composed of low-mass components. From modeling of the light curves considering full Keplerian motion of the lens, we also measure the orbital parameters of the binaries. The blended light of OGLE-2011-BLG-0417 comes very likely from the lens itself, making it possible to check the microlensing orbital solution by follow-up radial-velocity observation. For both events, the caustic-crossing parts of the light curves, which are critical for determining the physical lens parameters, were resolved by high-cadence survey observations and thus it is expected that the number of microlensing binaries with measured physical parameters will increase in the future. [less ▲]

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See detailMOA 2010-BLG-477Lb: Constraining the Mass of a Microlensing Planet from Microlensing Parallax, Orbital Motion, and Detection of Blended Light
Bachelet, E.; Shin, I.-G.; Han, C. et al

in Astrophysical Journal (2012), 754

Microlensing detections of cool planets are important for the construction of an unbiased sample to estimate the frequency of planets beyond the snow line, which is where giant planets are thought to form ... [more ▼]

Microlensing detections of cool planets are important for the construction of an unbiased sample to estimate the frequency of planets beyond the snow line, which is where giant planets are thought to form according to the core accretion theory of planet formation. In this paper, we report the discovery of a giant planet detected from the analysis of the light curve of a high-magnification microlensing event MOA 2010-BLG-477. The measured planet-star mass ratio is q = (2.181 ± 0.004) × 10[SUP]-3[/SUP] and the projected separation is s = 1.1228 ± 0.0006 in units of the Einstein radius. The angular Einstein radius is unusually large θ[SUB]E[/SUB] = 1.38 ± 0.11 mas. Combining this measurement with constraints on the "microlens parallax" and the lens flux, we can only limit the host mass to the range 0.13 < M/M [SUB]&sun;[/SUB] < 1.0. In this particular case, the strong degeneracy between microlensing parallax and planet orbital motion prevents us from measuring more accurate host and planet masses. However, we find that adding Bayesian priors from two effects (Galactic model and Keplerian orbit) each independently favors the upper end of this mass range, yielding star and planet masses of M [SUB]*[/SUB] = 0.67[SUP]+0.33[/SUP] [SUB]- 0.13[/SUB] M [SUB]&sun;[/SUB] and m[SUB]p[/SUB] = 1.5[SUP]+0.8[/SUP] [SUB]- 0.3[/SUB] M [SUB]JUP[/SUB] at a distance of D = 2.3 ± 0.6 kpc, and with a semi-major axis of a = 2[SUP]+3[/SUP] [SUB]- 1[/SUB] AU. Finally, we show that the lens mass can be determined from future high-resolution near-IR adaptive optics observations independently from two effects, photometric and astrometric. [less ▲]

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See detailCharacterizing Lenses and Lensed Stars of High-magnification Single-lens Gravitational Microlensing Events with Lenses Passing over Source Stars
Choi, J.-Y.; Shin, I.-G.; Park, S.-Y. et al

in Astrophysical Journal (2012), 751

We present the analysis of the light curves of nine high-magnification single-lens gravitational microlensing events with lenses passing over source stars, including OGLE-2004-BLG-254, MOA-2007-BLG-176 ... [more ▼]

We present the analysis of the light curves of nine high-magnification single-lens gravitational microlensing events with lenses passing over source stars, including OGLE-2004-BLG-254, MOA-2007-BLG-176, MOA-2007-BLG-233/OGLE-2007-BLG-302, MOA-2009-BLG-174, MOA-2010-BLG-436, MOA-2011-BLG-093, MOA-2011-BLG-274, OGLE-2011-BLG-0990/MOA-2011-BLG-300, and OGLE-2011-BLG-1101/MOA-2011-BLG-325. For all of the events, we measure the linear limb-darkening coefficients of the surface brightness profile of source stars by measuring the deviation of the light curves near the peak affected by the finite-source effect. For seven events, we measure the Einstein radii and the lens-source relative proper motions. Among them, five events are found to have Einstein radii of less than 0.2 mas, making the lenses very low mass star or brown dwarf candidates. For MOA-2011-BLG-274, especially, the small Einstein radius of θ[SUB]E[/SUB] ~ 0.08 mas combined with the short timescale of t [SUB]E[/SUB] ~ 2.7 days suggests the possibility that the lens is a free-floating planet. For MOA-2009-BLG-174, we measure the lens parallax and thus uniquely determine the physical parameters of the lens. We also find that the measured lens mass of ~0.84 M [SUB]&sun;[/SUB] is consistent with that of a star blended with the source, suggesting that the blend is likely to be the lens. Although we did not find planetary signals for any of the events, we provide exclusion diagrams showing the confidence levels excluding the existence of a planet as a function of the separation and mass ratio. [less ▲]

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See detailGlobal Modeling of X-Ray Spectra Produced in O-type Star Winds
Hervé, Anthony ULg; Rauw, Grégor ULg; Nazé, Yaël ULg et al

in Astrophysical Journal (2012), 748

High-resolution X-ray spectra of O-type stars revealed less wind absorption than expected from smooth winds with conventional mass-loss rates. Various solutions have been proposed, including porous winds ... [more ▼]

High-resolution X-ray spectra of O-type stars revealed less wind absorption than expected from smooth winds with conventional mass-loss rates. Various solutions have been proposed, including porous winds, optically thick clumps, or an overall reduction of the mass-loss rates. The latter has a strong impact on the evolution of the star. Our final goal is to analyze high-resolution X-ray spectra of O-type stars with a multi-temperature plasma model in order to determine crucial stellar and wind parameters such as the mass-loss rate, the CNO abundances, and the X-ray temperature plasma distribution in the wind. In this context we are developing a modeling tool to calculate synthetic X-ray spectra. We present here the main ingredients and physics necessary for such a work. Our code uses the most recent version of the AtomDB emissivities to compute the intrinsic emissivity of the hot plasma as well as the CMFGEN model atmosphere code to evaluate the opacity of the cool wind. Following the comparison between two formalisms of stellar wind fragmentation, we introduce, for the first time in X-rays, the effects of a tenuous inter-clump medium. We then explore the quantitative impact of different model parameters on the X-ray spectra such as the position in the wind of the X-ray emitting plasma. For the first time, we also show that the two formalisms of stellar wind fragmentation yield different results, although the differences for individual lines are small and can probably not be tested with the current generation of X-ray telescopes. As an illustration of our method, we compare various synthetic line profiles to the observed O VIII λ18.97 line in the spectrum of ζ Puppis. We illustrate how different combinations of parameters can actually lead to the same morphology of a single line, underlining the need to analyze the whole spectrum in a consistent way when attempting to constrain the parameters of the wind. [less ▲]

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See detailMicrolensing Binaries Discovered through High-magnification Channel
Shin, I.-G.; Choi, J.-Y.; Park, S.-Y. et al

in Astrophysical Journal (2012), 746

Microlensing can provide a useful tool to probe binary distributions down to low-mass limits of binary companions. In this paper, we analyze the light curves of eight binary-lensing events detected ... [more ▼]

Microlensing can provide a useful tool to probe binary distributions down to low-mass limits of binary companions. In this paper, we analyze the light curves of eight binary-lensing events detected through the channel of high-magnification events during the seasons from 2007 to 2010. The perturbations, which are confined near the peak of the light curves, can be easily distinguished from the central perturbations caused by planets. However, the degeneracy between close and wide binary solutions cannot be resolved with a 3σ confidence level for three events, implying that the degeneracy would be an important obstacle in studying binary distributions. The dependence of the degeneracy on the lensing parameters is consistent with a theoretical prediction that the degeneracy becomes severe as the binary separation and the mass ratio deviate from the values of resonant caustics. The measured mass ratio of the event OGLE-2008-BLG-510/MOA-2008-BLG-369 is q ~ 0.1, making the companion of the lens a strong brown dwarf candidate. [less ▲]

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See detailHigh-resolution X-ray spectroscopy of the magnetic Of?p star HD148937
Nazé, Yaël ULg; Zhekov, S. A.; Walborn, N. R.

in Astrophysical Journal (2012), 746

High-resolution data of the peculiar magnetic massive star HD148937 were obtained with Chandra-HETGS, and are presented here in combination with a re-analysis of the older XMM-RGS data. The lines of the ... [more ▼]

High-resolution data of the peculiar magnetic massive star HD148937 were obtained with Chandra-HETGS, and are presented here in combination with a re-analysis of the older XMM-RGS data. The lines of the high-Z elements (Mg, Si, S) were found to be unshifted and relatively narrow (FWHM of about 800km/s), i.e. narrower than the O line recorded by RGS, which possibly indicates that the hot plasma is multi-thermal and has several origins. These data further indicate a main plasma temperature of about 0.6keV and a formation of the X-ray emission at about one stellar radius above the photosphere. From the spectral fits and the H-to-He line ratios, the presence of very hot plasma is however confirmed, though with a smaller relative strength than for the prototype magnetic oblique rotator $\theta^1$\,Ori\,C. Both stars thus share many similarities, but HD148937 appears less extreme than $\theta^1$\,Ori\,C despite having also a large magnetic confinement parameter. [less ▲]

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See detailHigh-contrast Stellar Observations within the Diffraction Limit at the Palomar Hale Telescope
Mennesson, B.; Hanot, Charles ULg; Serabyn, Eugene et al

in Astrophysical Journal (2011), 743

We report on high-accuracy high-resolution (<20 mas) stellar observations obtained with the Palomar Fiber Nuller (PFN), a near-infrared (sime2.2 μm) interferometric coronagraph installed at the Palomar ... [more ▼]

We report on high-accuracy high-resolution (<20 mas) stellar observations obtained with the Palomar Fiber Nuller (PFN), a near-infrared (sime2.2 μm) interferometric coronagraph installed at the Palomar Hale telescope. The PFN uses destructive interference between two elliptical (3 m × 1.5 m) sub-apertures of the primary to reach high dynamic range inside the diffraction limit of the full telescope. In order to validate the PFN's instrumental approach and its data reduction strategy, based on the newly developed "Null Self-Calibration" (NSC) method, we observed a sample of eight well-characterized bright giants and supergiants. The quantity measured is the source astrophysical null depth, or equivalently the object's visibility at the PFN 3.2 m interferometric baseline. For the bare stars α Boo, α Her, β And, and α Aur, PFN measurements are in excellent agreement with previous stellar photosphere measurements from long baseline interferometry. For the mass-losing stars β Peg, α Ori, ρ Per, and χ Cyg, circumstellar emission and/or asymmetries are detected. Overall, these early observations demonstrate the PFN's ability to measure astrophysical null depths below 10[SUP]-2[/SUP] (limited by stellar diameters), with 1 σ uncertainties as low as a few 10[SUP]-4[/SUP]. Such visibility accuracy is unmatched at this spatial resolution in the near-infrared and translates into a contrast better than 10[SUP]-3[/SUP] within the diffraction limit. With further improvements anticipated in 2011/2012, a state-of-the-art infrared science camera and a new extreme adaptive optics system, the PFN should provide a unique tool for the detection of hot debris disks and young self-luminous sub-stellar companions in the immediate vicinity of nearby stars. [less ▲]

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See detailSpitzer Secondary Eclipses of WASP-18b
Nymeyer, Sarah; Harrington, Joseph; Hardy, Ryan A et al

in Astrophysical Journal (2011), 742(1), 35

The transiting exoplanet WASP-18b was discovered in 2008 by the Wide Angle Search for Planets (WASP) project. The Spitzer Exoplanet Target of Opportunity Program observed secondary eclipses of WASP-18b ... [more ▼]

The transiting exoplanet WASP-18b was discovered in 2008 by the Wide Angle Search for Planets (WASP) project. The Spitzer Exoplanet Target of Opportunity Program observed secondary eclipses of WASP-18b using Spitzer's Infrared Array Camera (IRAC) in the 3.6-micron and 5.8-micron bands on 2008 December 20, and in the 4.5-micron and 8.0-micron bands on 2008 December 24. We report eclipse depths of 0.31+-0.02, 0.38+-0.03, 0.41+-0.02, 0.43+-0.03 %, and brightness temperatures of 2920 +- 90, 3150 +- 130, 3040 +- 130 and 2960 +- 130 K, respectively. WASP-18b is one of the hottest planets yet discovered - as hot as an M-class star. The planet's pressure-temperature profile features a thermal inversion. The observations also require WASP-18b to have near-zero albedo and almost no redistribution of energy from the day-side to the night side of the planet. [less ▲]

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See detailDiscovery and Mass Measurements of a Cold, 10 Earth Mass Planet and Its Host Star
Muraki, Y.; Han, C.; Bennett, D. P. et al

in Astrophysical Journal (2011), 741

We present the discovery and mass measurement of the cold, low-mass planet MOA-2009-BLG-266Lb, performed with the gravitational microlensing method. This planet has a mass of m[SUB]p[/SUB] = 10.4 ± 1.7 M ... [more ▼]

We present the discovery and mass measurement of the cold, low-mass planet MOA-2009-BLG-266Lb, performed with the gravitational microlensing method. This planet has a mass of m[SUB]p[/SUB] = 10.4 ± 1.7 M[SUB]⊕[/SUB] and orbits a star of mass M [SUB]sstarf[/SUB] = 0.56 ± 0.09 M[SUB]sun[/SUB] at a semimajor axis of a = 3.2{+1.9\atop -0.5} AU and an orbital period of P = 7.6{+7.7\atop -1.5} yrs. The planet and host star mass measurements are enabled by the measurement of the microlensing parallax effect, which is seen primarily in the light curve distortion due to the orbital motion of the Earth. But the analysis also demonstrates the capability to measure the microlensing parallax with the Deep Impact (or EPOXI) spacecraft in a heliocentric orbit. The planet mass and orbital distance are similar to predictions for the critical core mass needed to accrete a substantial gaseous envelope, and thus may indicate that this planet is a "failed" gas giant. This and future microlensing detections will test planet formation theory predictions regarding the prevalence and masses of such planets. [less ▲]

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See detailThe High Albedo of the Hot Jupiter Kepler-7 b
Demory, Brice*-Olivier; Seager, Sara; Madhusudhan, Nikku et al

in Astrophysical Journal (2011), 735

Hot Jupiters are expected to be dark from both observations (albedo upper limits) and theory (alkali metals and/or TiO and VO absorption). However, only a handful of hot Jupiters have been observed with ... [more ▼]

Hot Jupiters are expected to be dark from both observations (albedo upper limits) and theory (alkali metals and/or TiO and VO absorption). However, only a handful of hot Jupiters have been observed with high enough photometric precision at visible wavelengths to investigate these expectations. The NASA Kepler mission provides a means to widen the sample and to assess the extent to which hot Jupiter albedos are low. We present a global analysis of Kepler-7 b based on Q0-Q4 data, published radial velocities, and asteroseismology constraints. We measure an occultation depth in the Kepler bandpass of 44 ± 5 ppm. If directly related to the albedo, this translates to a Kepler geometric albedo of 0.32 ± 0.03, the most precise value measured so far for an exoplanet. We also characterize the planetary orbital phase light curve with an amplitude of 42 ± 4 ppm. Using atmospheric models, we find it unlikely that the high albedo is due to a dominant thermal component and propose two solutions to explain the observed planetary flux. First, we interpret the Kepler-7 b albedo as resulting from an excess reflection over what can be explained solely by Rayleigh scattering, along with a nominal thermal component. This excess reflection might indicate the presence of a cloud or haze layer in the atmosphere, motivating new modeling and observational efforts. Alternatively, the albedo can be explained by Rayleigh scattering alone if Na and K are depleted in the atmosphere by a factor of 10-100 below solar abundances. [less ▲]

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See detailNew Constraints on Companions and Dust within a Few AU of Vega
Mennesson, B.; Serabyn, E.; Hanot, Charles ULg et al

in Astrophysical Journal (2011), 736

We report on high contrast near-infrared (~2.2 μm) observations of Vega obtained with the Palomar Fiber Nuller, a dual sub-aperture rotating coronagraph installed at the Palomar Hale telescope. The data ... [more ▼]

We report on high contrast near-infrared (~2.2 μm) observations of Vega obtained with the Palomar Fiber Nuller, a dual sub-aperture rotating coronagraph installed at the Palomar Hale telescope. The data show consistent astrophysical null depth measurements at the ~= 10[SUP]–3[/SUP] level or below for three different baseline orientations spanning 60 deg in azimuth, with individual 1σ uncertainties <=7 × 10[SUP]–4[/SUP]. These high cancellation and accuracy levels translate into a dynamic range greater than 1000:1 inside the diffraction limit of the 5 m telescope beam. Such high contrast performance is unprecedented in the near-infrared and provides improved constraints on Vega's immediate (sime20 to 250 mas, or sime0.15 to 2 AU) environment. In particular, our measurements rule out any potential companion in the [0.25-1 AU] region contributing more than 1% of the overall near-infrared stellar flux, with limits as low as 0.2% near 0.6 AU. These are the best upper limits established so far by direct detection for a companion to Vega in this inner region. We also conclude that any dust population contributing a significant (>=1%) near-infrared thermal excess can arise only within 0.2 AU of the star, and that it must consist of much smaller grains than in the solar zodiacal cloud. Dust emission from farther than sime2 AU is also not ruled out by our observations, but would have to originate in strong scattering, pointing again to very small grains. Based on observations obtained at the Hale Telescope, Palomar Observatory as part of a continuing collaboration between the California Institute of Technology, NASA/JPL, and Cornell University. [less ▲]

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See detailEPOXI: Comet 103P/Hartley 2 Observations from a Worldwide Campaign
Meech, K. J.; A'Hearn, M. F.; Adams, J. A. et al

in Astrophysical Journal (2011), 734(Letters), 11-9

Earth- and space-based observations provide synergistic information for space mission encounters by providing data over longer timescales, at different wavelengths and using techniques that are impossible ... [more ▼]

Earth- and space-based observations provide synergistic information for space mission encounters by providing data over longer timescales, at different wavelengths and using techniques that are impossible with an in situ flyby. We report here such observations in support of the EPOXI spacecraft flyby of comet 103P/Hartley 2. The nucleus is small and dark, and exhibited a very rapidly changing rotation period. Prior to the onset of activity, the period was ~16.4 hr. Starting in 2010 August the period changed from 16.6 hr to near 19 hr in December. With respect to dust composition, most volatiles and carbon and nitrogen isotope ratios, the comet is similar to other Jupiter-family comets. What is unusual is the dominance of CO[SUB]2[/SUB]-driven activity near perihelion, which likely persists out to aphelion. Near perihelion the comet nucleus was surrounded by a large halo of water-ice grains that contributed significantly to the total water production. [less ▲]

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See detailImproving Interferometric null depth measurements using statistical distributions: theory and first results with the Palomar Fiber Nuller
Hanot, Charles ULg; Mennesson, Bertrand; Martin, Stefan et al

in Astrophysical Journal (2011), 729(2), 110

A new "self-calibrated" statistical analysis method has been developed for the reduction of nulling interferometry data. The idea is to use the statistical distributions of the fluctuating null depth and ... [more ▼]

A new "self-calibrated" statistical analysis method has been developed for the reduction of nulling interferometry data. The idea is to use the statistical distributions of the fluctuating null depth and beam intensities to retrieve the astrophysical null depth (or equivalently the object's visibility) in the presence of fast atmospheric fluctuations. The approach yields an accuracy much better (about an order of magnitude) than is presently possible with standard data reduction methods, because the astrophysical null depth accuracy is no longer limited by the magnitude of the instrumental phase and intensity errors but by uncertainties on their probability distributions. This approach was tested on the sky with the two-aperture fiber nulling instrument mounted on the Palomar Hale telescope. Using our new data analysis approach alone—and no observations of calibrators—we find that error bars on the astrophysical null depth as low as a few 10–4 can be obtained in the near-infrared, which means that null depths lower than 10–3 can be reliably measured. This statistical analysis is not specific to our instrument and may be applicable to other interferometers. [less ▲]

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See detailOrtho-to-para Abundance Ratio (OPR) of Ammonia in 15 Comets: OPRs of Ammonia Versus 14N/15N Ratios in CN
Shinnaka, Yoshiharu; Kawakita, Hideyo; Kobayashi, Hitomi et al

in Astrophysical Journal (2011), 729

The ortho-to-para abundance ratio (OPR) of cometary molecules is considered to be one of the primordial characteristics of cometary ices. We present OPRs of ammonia (NH[SUB]3[/SUB]) in 15 comets based on ... [more ▼]

The ortho-to-para abundance ratio (OPR) of cometary molecules is considered to be one of the primordial characteristics of cometary ices. We present OPRs of ammonia (NH[SUB]3[/SUB]) in 15 comets based on optical high-dispersion spectroscopic observations of NH[SUB]2[/SUB], which is a photodissociation product of ammonia in the gaseous coma. The observations were mainly carried out with the VLT/UVES. The OPR of ammonia is estimated from the OPR of NH[SUB]2[/SUB] based on the observations of the NH[SUB]2[/SUB] (0, 9, 0) vibronic band. The absorption lines by the telluric atmosphere are corrected and the cometary C[SUB]2[/SUB] emission lines blended with NH[SUB]2[/SUB] lines are removed in our analysis. The ammonia OPRs show a cluster between 1.1 and 1.2 (this corresponds to a nuclear spin temperature of ~30 K) for all comets in our sample except for 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 3 (73P/SW3). Comet 73P/SW3 (both B- and C-fragments) shows the OPR of ammonia consistent with nuclear spin statistical weight ratio (1.0) that indicates a high-temperature limit as nuclear spin temperature. We compared the ammonia OPRs with other properties ([SUP]14[/SUP]N/[SUP]15[/SUP]N ratios in CN, D/H ratios of water, and mixing ratios of volatiles). Comet 73P/SW3 is clearly different from the other comets in the plot of ammonia OPRs versus [SUP]14[/SUP]N/[SUP]15[/SUP]N ratios in CN. The ammonia OPRs of 1.0 and lower [SUP]15[/SUP]N-fractionation of CN in comet 73P/SW3 imply that icy materials in this comet formed under warmer conditions than other comets. Comets may be classified into two groups in the plot of ammonia OPRs against [SUP]14[/SUP]N/[SUP]15[/SUP]N ratios in CN. [less ▲]

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See detailDiscovery of a New AM CVn System with the Kepler Satellite
Fontaine, G.; Brassard, P.; Green, E. M. et al

in Astrophysical Journal (2011), 726

We report the discovery of a new AM CVn system on the basis of broadband photometry obtained with the Kepler satellite supplemented by ground-based optical spectroscopy. Initially retained on Kepler ... [more ▼]

We report the discovery of a new AM CVn system on the basis of broadband photometry obtained with the Kepler satellite supplemented by ground-based optical spectroscopy. Initially retained on Kepler target lists as a potential compact pulsator, the blue object SDSS J190817.07+394036.4 (KIC 004547333) has turned out to be a high-state AM CVn star showing the He-dominated spectrum of its accretion disk significantly reddened by interstellar absorption. We constructed new grids of NLTE synthetic spectra for accretion disks in order to analyze our spectroscopic observations. From this analysis, we infer preliminary estimates of the rate of mass transfer, the inclination angle of the disk, and the distance to the system. The AM CVn nature of the system is also evident in the Kepler light curve, from which we extracted 11 secure periodicities. The luminosity variations are dominated by a basic periodicity of 938.507 s, likely to correspond to a superhump modulation. The light curve folded on the period of 938.507 s exhibits a pulse shape that is very similar to the superhump wavefront seen in AM CVn itself, which is a high-state system and the prototype of the class. Our Fourier analysis also suggests the likely presence of a quasi-periodic oscillation similar to those already observed in some high-state AM CVn systems. Furthermore, some very low-frequency, low-amplitude aperiodic photometric activity is likely present, which is in line with what is expected in accreting binary systems. Inspired by previous work, we further looked for and found some intriguing numerical relationships between the 11 secure detected frequencies, in the sense that we can account for all of them in terms of only three basic clocks. This is further evidence in favor of the AM CVn nature of the system. [less ▲]

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See detailA sub-Saturn Mass Planet, MOA-2009-BLG-319Lb
Miyake, N.; Sumi, T.; Dong, Subo et al

in Astrophysical Journal (2011), 1010

We report the gravitational microlensing discovery of a sub-Saturn mass planet, MOA-2009-BLG-319Lb, orbiting a K or M-dwarf star in the inner Galactic disk or Galactic bulge. The high cadence observations ... [more ▼]

We report the gravitational microlensing discovery of a sub-Saturn mass planet, MOA-2009-BLG-319Lb, orbiting a K or M-dwarf star in the inner Galactic disk or Galactic bulge. The high cadence observations of the MOA-II survey discovered this microlensing event and enabled its identification as a high magnification event approximately 24 hours prior to peak magnification. As a result, the planetary signal at the peak of this light curve was observed by 20 different telescopes, which is the largest number of telescopes to contribute to a planetary discovery to date. The microlensing model for this event indicates a planet-star mass ratio of q = (3.95 +/- 0.02) x 10^{-4} and a separation of d = 0.97537 +/- 0.00007 in units of the Einstein radius. A Bayesian analysis based on the measured Einstein radius crossing time, t_E, and angular Einstein radius, \theta_E, along with a standard Galactic model indicates a host star mass of M_L = 0.38^{+0.34}_{-0.18} M_{Sun} and a planet mass of M_p = 50^{+44}_{-24} M_{Earth}, which is half the mass of Saturn. This analysis also yields a planet-star three-dimensional separation of a = 2.4^{+1.2}_{-0.6} AU and a distance to the planetary system of D_L = 6.1^{+1.1}_{-1.2} kpc. This separation is ~ 2 times the distance of the snow line, a separation similar to most of the other planets discovered by microlensing. [less ▲]

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