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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 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 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 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 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 detailA Compact Concentration of Large Grains in the HD 142527 Protoplanetary Dust Trap
Casassus, Simon; Wright, Chris; Marino, Sebastian et al

in Astrophysical Journal (2015)

A pathway to the formation of planetesimals, and eventually giant planets, may occur in concentrations of dust grains trapped in pressure maxima. Dramatic crescent-shaped dust concentrations have been ... [more ▼]

A pathway to the formation of planetesimals, and eventually giant planets, may occur in concentrations of dust grains trapped in pressure maxima. Dramatic crescent-shaped dust concentrations have been seen in recent radio images at submillimeter wavelengths. These disk asymmetries could represent the initial phases of planet formation in the dust trap scenario, provided that grain sizes are spatially segregated. A testable prediction of azimuthal dust trapping is that progressively larger grains should be more sharply confined and should follow a distribution that is markedly different from the gas. However, gas tracers such as 12CO and the infrared emission from small grains are both very optically thick where the submillimeter continuum originates, so previous observations have been unable to test the trapping predictions or to identify compact concentrations of larger grains required for planet formation by core accretion. Here we report multifrequency observations of HD 142527, from 34 to 700 GHz, that reveal a compact concentration of grains approaching centimeter sizes, with a few Earth masses, embedded in a large-scale crescent of smaller, submillimeter-sized particles. The emission peaks at wavelengths shorter than ∼1 mm are optically thick and trace the temperature structure resulting from shadows cast by the inner regions. Given this temperature structure, we infer that the largest dust grains are concentrated in the 34 GHz clump. We conclude that dust trapping is efficient enough for grains observable at centimeter wavelengths to lead to compact concentrations. [less ▲]

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See detailTests of the Planetary Hypothesis for PTFO 8-8695b
Yu, Liang; Winn, Joshua N.; Gillon, Michaël ULg et al

in Astrophysical Journal (2015), 812

The T Tauri star PTFO 8-8695 exhibits periodic fading events that have been interpreted as the transits of a giant planet on a precessing orbit. Here we present three tests of the planet hypothesis. First ... [more ▼]

The T Tauri star PTFO 8-8695 exhibits periodic fading events that have been interpreted as the transits of a giant planet on a precessing orbit. Here we present three tests of the planet hypothesis. First, we sought evidence for the secular changes in light-curve morphology that are predicted to be a consequence of orbital precession. We observed 28 fading events spread over several years and did not see the expected changes. Instead, we found that the fading events are not strictly periodic. Second, we attempted to detect the planet's radiation, based on infrared observations spanning the predicted times of occultations. We ruled out a signal of the expected amplitude. Third, we attempted to detect the Rossiter-McLaughlin effect by performing high-resolution spectroscopy throughout a fading event. No effect was seen at the expected level, ruling out most (but not all) possible orientations for the hypothetical planetary orbit. Our spectroscopy also revealed strong, time-variable, high-velocity Hα and Ca H & K emission features. All these observations cast doubt on the planetary hypothesis, and suggest instead that the fading events represent starspots, eclipses by circumstellar dust, or occultations of an accretion hotspot. [less ▲]

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See detailThe K2-ESPRINT Project I: Discovery of the Disintegrating Rocky Planet K2-22b with a Cometary Head and Leading Tail
Sanchis-Ojeda, R.; Rappaport, S.; Pallé, E. et al

in Astrophysical Journal (2015), 812(2), 112

We present the discovery of a transiting exoplanet candidate in the K2 Field-1 with an orbital period of 9.1457 hr: K2-22b. The highly variable transit depths, ranging from ∼0% to 1.3%, are suggestive of ... [more ▼]

We present the discovery of a transiting exoplanet candidate in the K2 Field-1 with an orbital period of 9.1457 hr: K2-22b. The highly variable transit depths, ranging from ∼0% to 1.3%, are suggestive of a planet that is disintegrating via the emission of dusty effluents. We characterize the host star as an M-dwarf with Teff ≃ 3800 K. We have obtained ground-based transit measurements with several 1-m class telescopes and with the GTC. These observations (1) improve the transit ephemeris; (2) confirm the variable nature of the transit depths; (3) indicate variations in the transit shapes; and (4) demonstrate clearly that at least on one occasion the transit depths were significantly wavelength dependent. The latter three effects tend to indicate extinction of starlight by dust rather than by any combination of solid bodies. The K2 observations yield a folded light curve with lower time resolution but with substantially better statistical precision compared with the ground-based observations. We detect a significant “bump” just after the transit egress, and a less significant bump just prior to transit ingress. We interpret these bumps in the context of a planet that is not only likely streaming a dust tail behind it, but also has a more prominent leading dust trail that precedes it. This effect is modeled in terms of dust grains that can escape to beyond the planet's Hill sphere and effectively undergo “Roche lobe overflow,” even though the planet's surface is likely underfilling its Roche lobe by a factor of 2. [less ▲]

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See detailAccretion Kinematics through the Warped Transition Disk in HD142527 from Resolved CO(6-5) Observations
Casassus, S.; Marino, S.; Pérez et al

in Astrophysical Journal (2015)

The finding of residual gas in the large central cavity of the HD 142527 disk motivates questions regarding the origin of its non-Keplerian kinematics and possible connections with planet formation. We ... [more ▼]

The finding of residual gas in the large central cavity of the HD 142527 disk motivates questions regarding the origin of its non-Keplerian kinematics and possible connections with planet formation. We aim to understand the physical structure that underlies the intra-cavity gaseous flows, guided by new molecular-line data in CO(6–5) with unprecedented angular resolutions. Given the warped structure inferred from the identification of scattered-light shadows cast on the outer disk, the kinematics are consistent, to first order, with axisymmetric accretion onto the inner disk occurring at all azimuths. A steady-state accretion profile, fixed at the stellar accretion rate, explains the depth of the cavity as traced in CO isotopologues. The abrupt warp and evidence for near free-fall radial flows in HD 142527 resemble theoretical models for disk tearing, which could be driven by the reported low-mass companion, whose orbit may be contained in the plane of the inner disk. The companion's high inclination with respect to the massive outer disk could drive Kozai oscillations over long timescales; high-eccentricity periods may perhaps account for the large cavity. While shadowing by the tilted disk could imprint an azimuthal modulation in the molecular-line maps, further observations are required to ascertain the significance of azimuthal structure in the density field inside the cavity of HD 142527. [less ▲]

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See detailImpact of ηEarth on the Capabilities of Affordable Space Missions to Detect Biosignatures on Extrasolar Planets
Léger, Alain; Defrère, Denis; 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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See detailA Coordinated X-Ray and Optical Campaign of the Nearest Massive Eclipsing Binary, δ Orionis Aa. II. X-Ray Variability
Nichols, J.; Huenemoerder, D. P.; Corcoran, M. F. et al

in Astrophysical Journal (2015), 809

We present time-resolved and phase-resolved variability studies of an extensive X-ray high-resolution spectral data set of the δ Ori Aa binary system. The four observations, obtained with Chandra ACIS ... [more ▼]

We present time-resolved and phase-resolved variability studies of an extensive X-ray high-resolution spectral data set of the δ Ori Aa binary system. The four observations, obtained with Chandra ACIS HETGS, have a total exposure time of ≈ 479 ks and provide nearly complete binary phase coverage. Variability of the total X-ray flux in the range of 5–25 Å is confirmed, with a maximum amplitude of about ±15% within a single ≈ 125 ks observation. Periods of 4.76 and 2.04 days are found in the total X-ray flux, as well as an apparent overall increase in the flux level throughout the nine-day observational campaign. Using 40 ks contiguous spectra derived from the original observations, we investigate the variability of emission line parameters and ratios. Several emission lines are shown to be variable, including S xv, Si xiii, and Ne ix. For the first time, variations of the X-ray emission line widths as a function of the binary phase are found in a binary system, with the smallest widths at ϕ = 0.0 when the secondary δ Ori Aa2 is at the inferior conjunction. Using 3D hydrodynamic modeling of the interacting winds, we relate the emission line width variability to the presence of a wind cavity created by a wind–wind collision, which is effectively void of embedded wind shocks and is carved out of the X-ray-producing primary wind, thus producing phase-locked X-ray variability. Based on data from the Chandra X-ray Observatory and the MOST satellite, a Canadian Space Agency mission, jointly operated by Dynacon Inc., the University of Toronto Institute of Aerospace Studies, and the University of British Columbia, with the assistance of the University of Vienna. [less ▲]

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See detailA Coordinated X-Ray and Optical Campaign of the Nearest Massive Eclipsing Binary, δ Orionis Aa. I. Overview of the X-Ray Spectrum
Corcoran, M. F.; Nichols, J. S.; Pablo, H. et al

in Astrophysical Journal (2015), 809

We present an overview of four deep phase-constrained Chandra HETGS X-ray observations of δ Ori A. Delta Ori A is actually a triple system that includes the nearest massive eclipsing spectroscopic binary ... [more ▼]

We present an overview of four deep phase-constrained Chandra HETGS X-ray observations of δ Ori A. Delta Ori A is actually a triple system that includes the nearest massive eclipsing spectroscopic binary, δ Ori Aa, the only such object that can be observed with little phase-smearing with the Chandra gratings. Since the fainter star, δ Ori Aa2, has a much lower X-ray luminosity than the brighter primary (δ Ori Aa1), δ Ori Aa provides a unique system with which to test the spatial distribution of the X-ray emitting gas around δ Ori Aa1 via occultation by the photosphere of, and wind cavity around, the X-ray dark secondary. Here we discuss the X-ray spectrum and X-ray line profiles for the combined observation, having an exposure time of nearly 500 ks and covering nearly the entire binary orbit. The companion papers discuss the X-ray variability seen in the Chandra spectra, present new space-based photometry and ground-based radial velocities obtained simultaneously with the X-ray data to better constrain the system parameters, and model the effects of X-rays on the optical and UV spectra. We find that the X-ray emission is dominated by embedded wind shock emission from star Aa1, with little contribution from the tertiary star Ab or the shocked gas produced by the collision of the wind of Aa1 against the surface of Aa2. We find a similar temperature distribution to previous X-ray spectrum analyses. We also show that the line half-widths are about 0.3‑0.5 times the terminal velocity of the wind of star Aa1. We find a strong anti-correlation between line widths and the line excitation energy, which suggests that longer-wavelength, lower-temperature lines form farther out in the wind. Our analysis also indicates that the ratio of the intensities of the strong and weak lines of Fe xvii and Ne x are inconsistent with model predictions, which may be an effect of resonance scattering. [less ▲]

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See detailA Coordinated X-Ray and Optical Campaign of the Nearest Massive Eclipsing Binary, δ Orionis Aa. IV. A Multiwavelength, Non-LTE Spectroscopic Analysis
Shenar, T.; Oskinova, L.; Hamann, W.-R. et al

in Astrophysical Journal (2015), 809

Eclipsing systems of massive stars allow one to explore the properties of their components in great detail. We perform a multi-wavelength, non-LTE analysis of the three components of the massive multiple ... [more ▼]

Eclipsing systems of massive stars allow one to explore the properties of their components in great detail. We perform a multi-wavelength, non-LTE analysis of the three components of the massive multiple system δ Ori A, focusing on the fundamental stellar properties, stellar winds, and X-ray characteristics of the system. The primary’s distance-independent parameters turn out to be characteristic for its spectral type (O9.5 II), but usage of the Hipparcos parallax yields surprisingly low values for the mass, radius, and luminosity. Consistent values follow only if δ Ori lies at about twice the Hipparcos distance, in the vicinity of the σ-Orionis cluster. The primary and tertiary dominate the spectrum and leave the secondary only marginally detectable. We estimate the V-band magnitude difference between primary and secondary to be {{Δ }}V≈ 2\buildrel{{m}}\over{.} 8. The inferred parameters suggest that the secondary is an early B-type dwarf (≈B1 V), while the tertiary is an early B-type subgiant (≈B0 IV). We find evidence for rapid turbulent velocities (∼200 km s[SUP]‑1[/SUP]) and wind inhomogeneities, partially optically thick, in the primary’s wind. The bulk of the X-ray emission likely emerges from the primary’s stellar wind ({log}{L}[SUB]{{X[/SUB]}}/{L}[SUB]{Bol[/SUB]}≈ -6.85), initiating close to the stellar surface at {R}[SUB]0[/SUB]∼ 1.1 {R}[SUB]*[/SUB]. Accounting for clumping, the mass-loss rate of the primary is found to be {log}\dot{M}≈ -6.4 ({M}[SUB]ȯ [/SUB] {{yr}}[SUP]-1[/SUP]), which agrees with hydrodynamic predictions, and provides a consistent picture along the X-ray, UV, optical, and radio spectral domains. [less ▲]

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See detailPluto's atmosphere from stellar occultations in 2012 and 2013
Dias-Oliveira, A.; Sicardy, B.; Lellouch, E. et al

in Astrophysical Journal (2015), 1506

We analyze two multi-chord stellar occultations by Pluto observed on July 18th, 2012 and May 4th, 2013, and monitored respectively from five and six sites. They provide a total of fifteen light-curves ... [more ▼]

We analyze two multi-chord stellar occultations by Pluto observed on July 18th, 2012 and May 4th, 2013, and monitored respectively from five and six sites. They provide a total of fifteen light-curves, twelve of them being used for a simultaneous fit that uses a unique temperature profile, assuming a clear (no-haze) and pure N_2 atmosphere, but allowing for a possible pressure variation between the two dates. We find a solution that fits satisfactorily (i.e. within the noise level) all the twelve light-curves, providing atmospheric constraints between ~1,190 km (pressure ~ 11 \mubar) and ~ 1,450 km (pressure ~0.1 \mubar) from Pluto's center. Our main results are: (1) the best-fitting temperature profile shows a stratosphere with strong positive gradient between 1,190 km (at 36 K, 11 \mubar) and r = 1,215 km (6.0 \mubar), where a temperature maximum of 110 K is reached; above it is a mesosphere with negative thermal gradient of -0.2 K/km up to ~ 1,390 km (0.25 \mubar), where, the mesosphere connects itself to a more isothermal upper branch around 81 K; (2) the pressure shows a small (6 [less ▲]

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See detailFirst-light LBT Nulling Interferometric Observations: Warm Exozodiacal Dust Resolved within a Few AU of eta Crv
Defrere, D.; Hinz, P. M.; Skemer, A. J. et al

in Astrophysical Journal (2015), 799

We report on the first nulling interferometric observations with the Large Binocular Telescope Interferometer (LBTI), resolving the N' band (9.81-12.41 μm) emission around the nearby main-sequence star η ... [more ▼]

We report on the first nulling interferometric observations with the Large Binocular Telescope Interferometer (LBTI), resolving the N' band (9.81-12.41 μm) emission around the nearby main-sequence star η Crv (F2V, 1-2 Gyr). The measured source null depth amounts to 4.40% ± 0.35% over a field-of-view of 140 mas in radius (~2.6 AU for the distance of η Crv) and shows no significant variation over 35° of sky rotation. This relatively low null is unexpected given the total disk to star flux ratio measured by the Spitzer Infrared Spectrograph (IRS; ~23% across the N' band), suggesting that a significant fraction of the dust lies within the central nulled response of the LBTI (79 mas or 1.4 AU). Modeling of the warm disk shows that it cannot resemble a scaled version of the solar zodiacal cloud unless it is almost perpendicular to the outer disk imaged by Herschel. It is more likely that the inner and outer disks are coplanar and the warm dust is located at a distance of 0.5-1.0 AU, significantly closer than previously predicted by models of the IRS spectrum (~3 AU). The predicted disk sizes can be reconciled if the warm disk is not centrosymmetric, or if the dust particles are dominated by very small grains. Both possibilities hint that a recent collision has produced much of the dust. Finally, we discuss the implications for the presence of dust for the distance where the insolation is the same as Earth's (2.3 AU). [less ▲]

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See detailMonte Carlo Simulation of Metastable Oxygen Photochemistry in Cometary Atmospheres
Bisikalo, D. V.; Shematovich, V. I.; Gérard, Jean-Claude ULg et al

in Astrophysical Journal (2015), 798

Cometary atmospheres are produced by the outgassing of material, mainly H[SUB]2[/SUB]O, CO, and CO[SUB]2[/SUB] from the nucleus of the comet under the energy input from the Sun. Subsequent photochemical ... [more ▼]

Cometary atmospheres are produced by the outgassing of material, mainly H[SUB]2[/SUB]O, CO, and CO[SUB]2[/SUB] from the nucleus of the comet under the energy input from the Sun. Subsequent photochemical processes lead to the production of other species generally absent from the nucleus, such as OH. Although all comets are different, they all have a highly rarefied atmosphere, which is an ideal environment for nonthermal photochemical processes to take place and influence the detailed state of the atmosphere. We develop a Monte Carlo model of the coma photochemistry. We compute the energy distribution functions (EDF) of the metastable O([SUP]1[/SUP]D) and O([SUP]1[/SUP]S) species and obtain the red (630 nm) and green (557.7 nm) spectral line shapes of the full coma, consistent with the computed EDFs and the expansion velocity. We show that both species have a severely non-Maxwellian EDF, that results in broad spectral lines and the suprathermal broadening dominates due to the expansion motion. We apply our model to the atmosphere of comet C/1996 B2 (Hyakutake) and 103P/Hartley 2. The computed width of the green line, expressed in terms of speed, is lower than that of the red line. This result is comparable to previous theoretical analyses, but in disagreement with observations. We explain that the spectral line shape does not only depend on the exothermicity of the photochemical production mechanisms, but also on thermalization, due to elastic collisions, reducing the width of the emission line coming from the O([SUP]1[/SUP]D) level, which has a longer lifetime. [less ▲]

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See detailAtomic data and spectral model for Fe II
Bautista, M A; Fivet, V; Ballance, C et al

in Astrophysical Journal (2015)

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See detailCO Gas Inside the Protoplanetary Disk Cavity in HD 142527: Disk Structure from ALMA
Perez, S.; Casassus, S.; Ménard, F. et al

in Astrophysical Journal (2014), 798

Inner cavities and annular gaps in circumstellar disks are possible signposts of giant planet formation. The young star HD 142527 hosts a massive protoplanetary disk with a large cavity that extends up to ... [more ▼]

Inner cavities and annular gaps in circumstellar disks are possible signposts of giant planet formation. The young star HD 142527 hosts a massive protoplanetary disk with a large cavity that extends up to 140 AU from the central star, as seen in continuum images at infrared and millimeter wavelengths. Estimates of the survival of gas inside disk cavities are needed to discriminate between clearing scenarios. We present a spatially and spectrally resolved carbon monoxide isotopologue 2-1 line of $^12$CO, $^13$CO, and C[SUP]18[/SUP]$O obtained with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA). We detect emission coming from inside the dust-depleted cavity in all three isotopologues. Based on our analysis of the gas in the dust cavity, the $^12$CO emission is optically thick, while $^13$CO and C[SUP]18[/SUP]$O emissions are both optically thin. The total mass of residual gas inside the cavity is \~1.5-2 M $_Jup$. We model the gas with an axisymmetric disk model. Our best-fit model shows that the cavity radius is much smaller in CO than it is in millimeter continuum and scattered light observations, with a gas cavity that does not extend beyond 105 AU (at 3$\sigma$). The gap wall at its outer edge is diffuse and smooth in the gas distribution, while in dust continuum it is manifestly sharper. The inclination angle, as estimated from the high velocity channel maps is 28 \plusmn 0.5 deg, higher than in previous estimates, assuming a fix central star mass of 2.2 M $_&sun;$. [less ▲]

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See detailConstraining the Exozodiacal Luminosity Function of Main-sequence Stars: Complete Results from the Keck Nuller Mid-infrared Surveys
Mennesson, B.; Millan-Gabet, R.; Serabyn, E. et al

in Astrophysical Journal (2014), 797

Forty-seven nearby main-sequence stars were surveyed with the Keck Interferometer mid-infrared Nulling instrument (KIN) between 2008 and 2011, searching for faint resolved emission from exozodiacal dust ... [more ▼]

Forty-seven nearby main-sequence stars were surveyed with the Keck Interferometer mid-infrared Nulling instrument (KIN) between 2008 and 2011, searching for faint resolved emission from exozodiacal dust. Observations of a subset of the sample have already been reported, focusing essentially on stars with no previously known dust. Here we extend this previous analysis to the whole KIN sample, including 22 more stars with known near- and/or far-infrared excesses. In addition to an analysis similar to that of the first paper of this series, which was restricted to the 8-9 mum spectral region, we present measurements obtained in all 10 spectral channels covering the 8-13 mum instrumental bandwidth. Based on the 8-9 mum data alone, which provide the highest signal-to-noise measurements, only one star shows a large excess imputable to dust emission (eta Crv), while four more show a significant (>3sigma) excess: beta Leo, beta UMa, zeta Lep, and gamma Oph. Overall, excesses detected by KIN are more frequent around A-type stars than later spectral types. A statistical analysis of the measurements further indicates that stars with known far-infrared (lambda >= 70 mum) excesses have higher exozodiacal emission levels than stars with no previous indication of a cold outer disk. This statistical trend is observed regardless of spectral type and points to a dynamical connection between the inner (zodi-like) and outer (Kuiper-Belt-like) dust populations. The measured levels for such stars are clustering close to the KIN detection limit of a few hundred zodis and are indeed consistent with those expected from a populat [less ▲]

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See detailFundamental Limitations of High Contrast Imaging Set by Small Sample Statistics
Mawet, D.; Milli, J.; Wahhaj, Z. et al

in Astrophysical Journal (2014), 792

In this paper, we review the impact of small sample statistics on detection thresholds and corresponding confidence levels (CLs) in high-contrast imaging at small angles. When looking close to the star ... [more ▼]

In this paper, we review the impact of small sample statistics on detection thresholds and corresponding confidence levels (CLs) in high-contrast imaging at small angles. When looking close to the star, the number of resolution elements decreases rapidly toward small angles. This reduction of the number of degrees of freedom dramatically affects CLs and false alarm probabilities. Naively using the same ideal hypothesis and methods as for larger separations, which are well understood and commonly assume Gaussian noise, can yield up to one order of magnitude error in contrast estimations at fixed CL. The statistical penalty exponentially increases toward very small inner working angles. Even at 5-10 resolution elements from the star, false alarm probabilities can be significantly higher than expected. Here we present a rigorous statistical analysis that ensures robustness of the CL, but also imposes a substantial limitation on corresponding achievable detection limits (thus contrast) at small angles. This unavoidable fundamental statistical effect has a significant impact on current coronagraphic and future high-contrast imagers. Finally, the paper concludes with practical recommendations to account for small number statistics when computing the sensitivity to companions at small angles and when exploiting the results of direct imaging planet surveys. [less ▲]

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