The Carnegie Astrometric Planet Search Program

Date
Authors
Boss, Alan P.
Weinberger, Alycia J.
Anglada-Escude, Guillem
Thompson, Ian B.
Burley, Gregory
Birk, Christoph
Pravdo, Steven H.
Shaklan, Stuart B.
Gatewood, George D.
Majewski, Steven R.
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Publisher
Abstract
Description
We are undertaking an astrometric search for gas giant planets and brown dwarfs orbiting nearby low mass dwarf stars with the 2.5-m du Pont telescope at the Las Campanas Observatory in Chile. We have built two specialized astrometric cameras, the Carnegie Astrometric Planet Search Cameras (CAPSCam-S and CAPSCam-N), using two Teledyne Hawaii-2RG HyViSI arrays, with the cameras' design having been optimized for high accuracy astrometry of M dwarf stars. We describe two independent CAPSCam data reduction approaches and present a detailed analysis of the observations to date of one of our target stars, NLTT 48256. Observations of NLTT 48256 taken since July 2007 with CAPSCam-S imply that astrometric accuracies of around 0.3 milliarcsec per hour are achievable, sufficient to detect a Jupiter-mass companion orbiting 1 AU from a late M dwarf 10 pc away with a signal-to-noise ratio of about 4. We plan to follow about 100 nearby (primarily within about 10 pc) low mass stars, principally late M, L, and T dwarfs, for 10 years or more, in order to detect very low mass companions with orbital periods long enough to permit the existence of habitable, Earth-like planets on shorter-period orbits. These stars are generally too faint and red to be included in ground-based Doppler planet surveys, which are often optimized for FGK dwarfs. The smaller masses of late M dwarfs also yield correspondingly larger astrometric signals for a given mass planet. Our search will help to determine whether gas giant planets form primarily by core accretion or by disk instability around late M dwarf stars.
Comment: 48 pages, 9 figures. in press, Publ. Astron. Soc. Pacific
Keywords
Astrophysics - Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics
Citation
Collections