- Imaging Search for Dynamically Inferred Planets in Nearby Debris Disk Systems [Dataset]
- Pasadena, CA: IRSA
- Document type
- Web publication/site
- Faculty of Science (FNWI)
- Anton Pannekoek Institute for Astronomy (API)
The nearby stars Eps Eri, Vega, and Fomalhaut all host large debris disks with morphological structures that can be interpreted as being due to dynamical influence from unseen giant planets residing in the systems. At the ages of the systems of a few hundred Myrs, such planets are expected to have cooled down to temperatures of ~200 K, which makes them unreachable from the ground due to their faintness at JHKL wavelengths and the prohibitively large thermal background at longer wavelengths. Spitzer, however, has the sensitivity required at 4.5 micron to detect such objects. As we have shown previously (Janson et al. 2012), a dedicated observing strategy and data reduction scheme can be used to improve the Spitzer contrast performance by more than an order of magnitude compared to conventional methods, which enables this degree of sensitivity down to separations of ~10'. The corresponding detection space provides an excellent match to the predicted properties of inferred companions in the three systems. Here, we propose to re-observe Fomalhaut to follow up a candidate companion detected in our previous image, and to observe Vega and Eps Eri to search for their inferred companions. In each case we will be sensitive to Jovian or sub-Jovian companions in the primary separation regions of interest, which is a factor 3 better mass sensitivity than previously achieved. These observations provide a unique opportunity to study far colder and more Jupiter-like planets than previously imaged.
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