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See detailSearching for the near-infrared counterpart of Proxima c using multi-epoch high-contrast SPHERE data at VLT★
Gratton, R.; Zurlo, A.; Le Coroller, H. et al

in Astronomy and Astrophysics (2020), 638

Context. Proxima Centauri is the closest star to the Sun and it is known to host an Earth-like planet in its habitable zone; very recently a second candidate planet was proposed based on radial velocities ... [more ▼]

Context. Proxima Centauri is the closest star to the Sun and it is known to host an Earth-like planet in its habitable zone; very recently a second candidate planet was proposed based on radial velocities. At quadrature, the expected projected separation of this new candidate is larger than 1 arcsec, making it a potentially interesting target for direct imaging. <BR /> Aims: While identification of the optical counterpart of this planet is expected to be very difficult, successful identification would allow for a detailed characterization of the closest planetary system. <BR /> Methods: We searched for a counterpart in SPHERE images acquired over four years through the SHINE survey. In order to account for the expected large orbital motion of the planet, we used a method that assumes the circular orbit obtained from radial velocities and exploits the sequence of observations acquired close to quadrature in the orbit. We checked this with a more general approach that considers Keplerian motion, called K-stacker. <BR /> Results: We did not obtain a clear detection. The best candidate has signal-to-noise ratio (S/N) = 6.1 in the combined image. A statistical test suggests that the probability that this detection is due to random fluctuation of noise is <1%, but this result depends on the assumption that the distribution of noise is uniform over the image, a fact that is likely not true. The position of this candidate and the orientation of its orbital plane fit well with observations in the ALMA 12 m array image. However, the astrometric signal expected from the orbit of the candidate we detected is 3σ away from the astrometric motion of Proxima as measured from early Gaia data. This, together with the unexpectedly high flux associated with our direct imaging detection, means we cannot confirm that our candidate is indeed Proxima c. <BR /> Conclusions: On the other hand, if confirmed, this would be the first observation in imaging of a planet discovered from radial velocities and the second planet (after Fomalhaut b) of reflecting circumplanetary material. Further confirmation observations should be done as soon as possible. <P />The reduced images are only available at the CDS via anonymous ftp to <A href="http://cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr">http://cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr</A> (ftp://130.79.128.5) or via <A href="http://cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr/viz-bin/cat/J/A+A/638/A120">http://cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr/viz-bin/cat/J/A+A/638/A120</A> <P />Based on data collected at the European Southern Observatory, Chile (ESO Programs 095.D-0309, 096.C-0241, 096.D-0252, 097.C-0865, 198.C-D0209, 099.D-0098, 099.C-0127. [less ▲]

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See detailSPHERE+: Imaging young Jupiters down to the snowline
Boccaletti, A.; Chauvin, G.; Mouillet, D. et al

E-print/Working paper (2020)

SPHERE (Beuzit et al,. 2019) has now been in operation at the VLT for more than 5 years, demonstrating a high level of performance. SPHERE has produced outstanding results using a variety of operating ... [more ▼]

SPHERE (Beuzit et al,. 2019) has now been in operation at the VLT for more than 5 years, demonstrating a high level of performance. SPHERE has produced outstanding results using a variety of operating modes, primarily in the field of direct imaging of exoplanetary systems, focusing on exoplanets as point sources and circumstellar disks as extended objects. The achievements obtained thus far with SPHERE (~200 refereed publications) in different areas (exoplanets, disks, solar system, stellar physics...) have motivated a large consortium to propose an even more ambitious set of science cases, and its corresponding technical implementation in the form of an upgrade. The SPHERE+ project capitalizes on the expertise and lessons learned from SPHERE to push high contrast imaging performance to its limits on the VLT 8m-telescope. The scientific program of SPHERE+ described in this document will open a new and compelling scientific window for the upcoming decade in strong synergy with ground-based facilities (VLT/I, ELT, ALMA, and SKA) and space missions (Gaia, JWST, PLATO and WFIRST). While SPHERE has sampled the outer parts of planetary systems beyond a few tens of AU, SPHERE+ will dig into the inner regions around stars to reveal and characterize by mean of spectroscopy the giant planet population down to the snow line. Building on SPHERE's scientific heritage and resounding success, SPHERE+ will be a dedicated survey instrument which will strengthen the leadership of ESO and the European community in the very competitive field of direct imaging of exoplanetary systems. With enhanced capabilities, it will enable an even broader diversity of science cases including the study of the solar system, the birth and death of stars and the exploration of the inner regions of active galactic nuclei. [less ▲]

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