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See detailCharacterization of the Benchmark Binary NLTT 33370
Schlieder, Joshua E.; Bonnefoy, Mickaël; Herbst, T. M. et al

in Astrophysical Journal (2014), 783

We confirm the binary nature of the nearby, very low mass (VLM) system NLTT 33370 with adaptive optics imaging and present resolved near-infrared photometry and integrated light optical and near-infrared ... [more ▼]

We confirm the binary nature of the nearby, very low mass (VLM) system NLTT 33370 with adaptive optics imaging and present resolved near-infrared photometry and integrated light optical and near-infrared spectroscopy to characterize the system. VLT-NaCo and LBTI-LMIRCam images show significant orbital motion between 2013 February and 2013 April. Optical spectra reveal weak, gravity-sensitive alkali lines and strong lithium 6708 Å absorption that indicate the system is younger than field age. VLT-SINFONI near-IR spectra also show weak, gravity-sensitive features and spectral morphology that is consistent with other young VLM dwarfs. We combine the constraints from all age diagnostics to estimate a system age of ~30-200 Myr. The 1.2-4.7 μm spectral energy distribution of the components point toward T [SUB]eff[/SUB] = 3200 ± 500 K and T [SUB]eff[/SUB] = 3100 ± 500 K for NLTT 33370 A and B, respectively. The observed spectra, derived temperatures, and estimated age combine to constrain the component spectral types to the range M6-M8. Evolutionary models predict masses of 97^{+41}_{-48}\,M_{Jup} and 91^{+41}_{-44}\,M_{Jup} from the estimated luminosities of the components. KPNO-Phoenix spectra allow us to estimate the systemic radial velocity of the binary. The Galactic kinematics of NLTT 33370AB are broadly consistent with other young stars in the solar neighborhood. However, definitive membership in a young, kinematic group cannot be assigned at this time and further follow-up observations are necessary to fully constrain the system's kinematics. The proximity, age, and late-spectral type of this binary make it very novel and an ideal target for rapid, complete orbit determination. The system is one of only a few model calibration benchmarks at young ages and VLMs. [less ▲]

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See detailDoes the Debris Disk around HD 32297 Contain Cometary Grains?
Rodigas, Timothy J.; Debes, John H.; Hinz, Philip M. et al

in Astrophysical Journal (2014), 783

We present an adaptive optics imaging detection of the HD 32297 debris disk at L' (3.8 μm) obtained with the LBTI/LMIRcam infrared instrument at the Large Binocular Telescope. The disk is detected at ... [more ▼]

We present an adaptive optics imaging detection of the HD 32297 debris disk at L' (3.8 μm) obtained with the LBTI/LMIRcam infrared instrument at the Large Binocular Telescope. The disk is detected at signal-to-noise ratio per resolution element ~3-7.5 from ~0.''3 to 1.''1 (30-120 AU). The disk at L' is bowed, as was seen at shorter wavelengths. This likely indicates that the disk is not perfectly edge-on and contains highly forward-scattering grains. Interior to ~50 AU, the surface brightness at L' rises sharply on both sides of the disk, which was also previously seen at Ks band. This evidence together points to the disk containing a second inner component located at lsim50 AU. Comparing the color of the outer (50 <r/AU <120) portion of the disk at L' with archival Hubble Space Telescope/NICMOS images of the disk at 1-2 μm allows us to test the recently proposed cometary grains model of Donaldson et al. We find that the model fails to match this disk's surface brightness and spectrum simultaneously (reduced chi-square = 17.9). When we modify the density distribution of the model disk, we obtain a better overall fit (reduced chi-square = 2.87). The best fit to all of the data is a pure water ice model (reduced chi-square = 1.06), but additional resolved imaging at 3.1 μm is necessary to constrain how much (if any) water ice exists in the disk, which can then help refine the originally proposed cometary grains model. Based on observations made at the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT). 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 Astrosica, 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. Based on observations made using the Large Binocular Telescope Interferometer (LBTI). LBTI is funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration as part of its Exoplanet Exploration program. [less ▲]

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See detailA Super-Jupiter orbiting a late-type star: A refined analysis of microlensing event OGLE-2012-BLG-0406
Tsapras, Y.; Choi, J.-Y.; Street, R. A. et al

in Astrophysical Journal (2014), 782

We present a detailed analysis of survey and follow-up observations of microlensing event OGLE-2012-BLG-0406 based on data obtained from 10 different observatories. Intensive coverage of the lightcurve ... [more ▼]

We present a detailed analysis of survey and follow-up observations of microlensing event OGLE-2012-BLG-0406 based on data obtained from 10 different observatories. Intensive coverage of the lightcurve, especially the perturbation part, allowed us to accurately measure the parallax effect and lens orbital motion. Combining our measurement of the lens parallax with the angular Einstein radius determined from finite-source effects, we estimate the physical parameters of the lens system. We find that the event was caused by a $2.73\pm 0.43\ M_{\rm J}$ planet orbiting a $0.44\pm 0.07\ M_{\odot}$ early M-type star. The distance to the lens is $4.97\pm 0.29$\ kpc and the projected separation between the host star and its planet at the time of the event is $3.45\pm 0.26$ AU. We find that the additional coverage provided by follow-up observations, especially during the planetary perturbation, leads to a more accurate determination of the physical parameters of the lens. [less ▲]

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See detailFueling Active Galactic Nuclei. II. Spatially Resolved Molecular Inflows and Outflows
Davies, R. I.; Maciejewski, W.; Hicks, E. K. S. et al

in Astrophysical Journal (2014), 792

We analyze the two-dimensional distribution and kinematics of the stars as well as molecular and ionized gas in the central few hundred parsecs of five active and five matched inactive galaxies. The ... [more ▼]

We analyze the two-dimensional distribution and kinematics of the stars as well as molecular and ionized gas in the central few hundred parsecs of five active and five matched inactive galaxies. The equivalent widths of the Brγ line indicate that there is no ongoing star formation in their nuclei, although recent (terminated) starbursts are possible in the active galaxies. The stellar velocity fields show no signs of non-circular motions, while the 1-0 S(1) H2 kinematics exhibit significant deviations from simple circular rotation. In the active galaxies the H2 kinematics reveal inflow and outflow superimposed on disk rotation. Steady-state circumnuclear inflow is seen in three active galactic nuclei (AGNs), and hydrodynamical models indicate it can be driven by a large-scale bar. In three of the five AGNs, molecular outflows are spatially resolved. The outflows are oriented such that they intersect, or have an edge close to, the disk, which may be the source of molecular gas in the outflow. The relatively low speeds imply the gas will fall back onto the disk, and with moderate outflow rates, they will have only a local impact on the host galaxy. H2 was detected in two inactive galaxies. These exhibit chaotic circumnuclear dust morphologies and have molecular structures that are counter-rotating with respect to the main gas component, which could lead to gas inflow in the near future. In our sample, all four galaxies with chaotic dust morphology in the circumnuclear region exist in moderately dense groups with 10-15 members where accretion of stripped gas can easily occur. [less ▲]

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See detailA Monitoring Campaign for Luhman 16AB. I. Detection of Resolved Near-Infrared Spectroscopic Variability
Burgasser, A. J.; Gillon, Michaël ULiege; Faherty, J. K. et al

in Astrophysical Journal (2014), 785

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See detailThe Size, Shape, Albedo, Density, and Atmospheric Limit of Transneptunian Object (50000) Quaoar from Multi-chord Stellar Occultations
Braga-Ribas, F.; Sicardy, B.; Ortiz, J. L. et al

in Astrophysical Journal (2013), 773

We present results derived from the first multi-chord stellar occultations by the transneptunian object (50000) Quaoar, observed on 2011 May 4 and 2012 February 17, and from a single-chord occultation ... [more ▼]

We present results derived from the first multi-chord stellar occultations by the transneptunian object (50000) Quaoar, observed on 2011 May 4 and 2012 February 17, and from a single-chord occultation observed on 2012 October 15. If the timing of the five chords obtained in 2011 were correct, then Quaoar would possess topographic features (crater or mountain) that would be too large for a body of this mass. An alternative model consists in applying time shifts to some chords to account for possible timing errors. Satisfactory elliptical fits to the chords are then possible, yielding an equivalent radius R [SUB]equiv[/SUB] = 555 ± 2.5 km and geometric visual albedo p[SUB]V[/SUB] = 0.109 ± 0.007. Assuming that Quaoar is a Maclaurin spheroid with an indeterminate polar aspect angle, we derive a true oblateness of \epsilon = 0.087^{+0.0268}_{-0.0175}, an equatorial radius of 569^{+24}_{-17} km, and a density of 1.99 ± 0.46 g cm[SUP]–3[/SUP]. The orientation of our preferred solution in the plane of the sky implies that Quaoar's satellite Weywot cannot have an equatorial orbit. Finally, we detect no global atmosphere around Quaoar, considering a pressure upper limit of about 20 nbar for a pure methane atmosphere. [less ▲]

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See detailHerschel's "Cold Debris Disks": Background Galaxies or Quiescent Rims of Planetary Systems?
Krivov, A. V.; Eiroa, C.; Löhne, T. et al

in Astrophysical Journal (2013), 772

(abridged) Infrared excesses associated with debris disk host stars detected so far peak at wavelengths around ~100{\mu}m or shorter. However, six out of 31 excess sources in the Herschel OTKP DUNES have ... [more ▼]

(abridged) Infrared excesses associated with debris disk host stars detected so far peak at wavelengths around ~100{\mu}m or shorter. However, six out of 31 excess sources in the Herschel OTKP DUNES have been seen to show significant - and in some cases extended - excess emission at 160{\mu}m, which is larger than the 100{\mu}m excess. This excess emission has been suggested to stem from debris disks colder than those known previously. Using several methods, we re-consider whether some or even all of the candidates may be associated with unrelated galactic or extragalactic emission and conclude that it is highly unlikely that none of the candidates represents a true circumstellar disk. For true disks, both the dust temperatures inferred from the SEDs and the disk radii estimated from the images suggest that the dust is nearly as cold as a blackbody. This requires the grains to be larger than ~100{\mu}m, regardless of their material composition. To explain the dearth of small grains, we explore several conceivable scenarios: transport-dominated disks, disks of low dynamical excitation, and disks of unstirred primordial macroscopic grains. Our qualitative analysis and collisional simulations rule out the first two of these scenarios, but show the feasibility of the third one. We show that such disks can survive for gigayears, largely preserving the primordial size distribution. They should be composed of macroscopic solids larger than millimeters, but smaller than kilometers in size. Thus planetesimal formation, at least in the outer regions of the systems, has stopped before "cometary" or "asteroidal" sizes were reached. [less ▲]

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See detailMOA-2010-BLG-311: A planetary candidate below the threshold of reliable detection
Yee, J. C.; Hung, L.-W.; Bond, I. A. et al

in Astrophysical Journal (2013), 769(1), 77

We analyze MOA-2010-BLG-311, a high magnification (A_max>600) microlensing event with complete data coverage over the peak, making it very sensitive to planetary signals. We fit this event with both a ... [more ▼]

We analyze MOA-2010-BLG-311, a high magnification (A_max>600) microlensing event with complete data coverage over the peak, making it very sensitive to planetary signals. We fit this event with both a point lens and a 2-body lens model and find that the 2-body lens model is a better fit but with only Delta chi^2~140. The preferred mass ratio between the lens star and its companion is $q=10^(-3.7+/-0.1), placing the candidate companion in the planetary regime. Despite the formal significance of the planet, we show that because of systematics in the data the evidence for a planetary companion to the lens is too tenuous to claim a secure detection. When combined with analyses of other high-magnification events, this event helps empirically define the threshold for reliable planet detection in high-magnification events, which remains an open question. [less ▲]

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See detailMicrolensing Discovery of a Population of Very Tight, Very Low Mass Binary Brown Dwarfs
Choi, J.-Y.; Han, C.; Udalski, A. et al

in Astrophysical Journal (2013), 768

Although many models have been proposed, the physical mechanisms responsible for the formation of low-mass brown dwarfs (BDs) are poorly understood. The multiplicity properties and minimum mass of the BD ... [more ▼]

Although many models have been proposed, the physical mechanisms responsible for the formation of low-mass brown dwarfs (BDs) are poorly understood. The multiplicity properties and minimum mass of the BD mass function provide critical empirical diagnostics of these mechanisms. We present the discovery via gravitational microlensing of two very low mass, very tight binary systems. These binaries have directly and precisely measured total system masses of 0.025 M [SUB]⊙[/SUB] and 0.034 M [SUB]⊙[/SUB], and projected separations of 0.31 AU and 0.19 AU, making them the lowest-mass and tightest field BD binaries known. The discovery of a population of such binaries indicates that BD binaries can robustly form at least down to masses of ~0.02 M [SUB]⊙[/SUB]. Future microlensing surveys will measure a mass-selected sample of BD binary systems, which can then be directly compared to similar samples of stellar binaries. [less ▲]

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See detailTwo Accurate Time-delay Distances from Strong Lensing: Implications for Cosmology
Suyu, S. H.; Auger, M. W.; Hilbert, S. et al

in Astrophysical Journal (2013), 766

Strong gravitational lenses with measured time delays between the multiple images and models of the lens mass distribution allow a one-step determination of the time-delay distance, and thus a measure of ... [more ▼]

Strong gravitational lenses with measured time delays between the multiple images and models of the lens mass distribution allow a one-step determination of the time-delay distance, and thus a measure of cosmological parameters. We present a blind analysis of the gravitational lens RXJ1131-1231 incorporating (1) the newly measured time delays from COSMOGRAIL, the COSmological MOnitoring of GRAvItational Lenses, (2) archival Hubble Space Telescope imaging of the lens system, (3) a new velocity-dispersion measurement of the lens galaxy of 323 ± 20 km s[SUP]-1[/SUP] based on Keck spectroscopy, and (4) a characterization of the line-of-sight structures via observations of the lens' environment and ray tracing through the Millennium Simulation. Our blind analysis is designed to prevent experimenter bias. The joint analysis of the data sets allows a time-delay distance measurement to 6% precision that takes into account all known systematic uncertainties. In combination with the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe seven-year (WMAP7) data set in flat wCDM cosmology, our unblinded cosmological constraints for RXJ1131-1231 are H_0=80.0^{+5.8}_{-5.7} km s^{-1} Mpc^{-1}, Ω[SUB]de[/SUB] = 0.79 ± 0.03, and w=-1.25^{+0.17}_{-0.21}. We find the results to be statistically consistent with those from the analysis of the gravitational lens B1608+656, permitting us to combine the inferences from these two lenses. The joint constraints from the two lenses and WMAP7 are H_0=75.2^{+4.4}_{-4.2} km s^{-1} Mpc^{-1}, Ω _de=0.76^{+0.02}_{-0.03}, and w = -1.14^{+0.17}_{-0.20} in flat wCDM, and H_0=73.1^{+2.4}_{-3.6} km s^{-1} Mpc^{-1}, Ω_{Λ}= 0.75^{+0.01}_{-0.02}, and Ω_k=0.003^{+0.005}_{-0.006} in open ΛCDM. Time-delay lenses constrain especially tightly the Hubble constant H [SUB]0[/SUB] (5.7% and 4.0% respectively in wCDM and open ΛCDM) and curvature of the universe. The overall information content is similar to that of Baryon Acoustic Oscillation experiments. Thus, they complement well other cosmological probes, and provide an independent check of unknown systematics. Our measurement of the Hubble constant is completely independent of those based on the local distance ladder method, providing an important consistency check of the standard cosmological model and of general relativity. [less ▲]

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See detailTesting Convective-core Overshooting Using Period Spacings of Dipole Modes in Red Giants
Montalbán, J.; Miglio, A.; Noels-Grötsch, Arlette ULiege et al

in Astrophysical Journal (2013), 766

Uncertainties on central mixing in main-sequence (MS) and core He-burning (He-B) phases affect key predictions of stellar evolution such as late evolutionary phases, chemical enrichment, ages, etc. We ... [more ▼]

Uncertainties on central mixing in main-sequence (MS) and core He-burning (He-B) phases affect key predictions of stellar evolution such as late evolutionary phases, chemical enrichment, ages, etc. We propose a test of the extension of extra-mixing in two relevant evolutionary phases based on period spacing (ΔP) of solar-like oscillating giants. From stellar models and their corresponding adiabatic frequencies (respectively, computed with ATON and LOSC codes), we provide the first predictions of the observable ΔP for stars in the red giant branch and in the red clump (RC). We find (1) a clear correlation between ΔP and the mass of the helium core (M [SUB]He[/SUB]); the latter in intermediate-mass stars depends on the MS overshooting, and hence it can be used to set constraints on extra-mixing during MS when coupled with chemical composition; and (2) a linear dependence of the average value of the asymptotic period spacing (langΔPrang[SUB] a [/SUB]) on the size of the convective core during the He-B phase. A first comparison with the inferred asymptotic period spacing for Kepler RC stars also suggests the need for extra-mixing during this phase, as evinced from other observational facts. [less ▲]

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See detailThe Quasar-galaxy Cross SDSS J1320+1644: A Probable Large-separation Lensed Quasar
Rusu, Cristian E.; Oguri, Masamune; Iye, Masanori et al

in Astrophysical Journal (2013), 765

We report the discovery of a pair of quasars at z = 1.487, with a separation of 8.''585 ± 0.''002. Subaru Telescope infrared imaging reveals the presence of an elliptical and a disk-like galaxy located ... [more ▼]

We report the discovery of a pair of quasars at z = 1.487, with a separation of 8.''585 ± 0.''002. Subaru Telescope infrared imaging reveals the presence of an elliptical and a disk-like galaxy located almost symmetrically between the quasars, in a cross-like configuration. Based on absorption lines in the quasar spectra and the colors of the galaxies, we estimate that both galaxies are located at redshift z = 0.899. This, as well as the similarity of the quasar spectra, suggests that the system is a single quasar multiply imaged by a galaxy group or cluster acting as a gravitational lens, although the possibility of a binary quasar cannot be fully excluded. We show that the gravitational lensing hypothesis implies that these galaxies are not isolated, but must be embedded in a dark matter halo of virial mass ~4 × 10[SUP]14[/SUP] h [SUP]-1[/SUP] [SUB]70[/SUB] M [SUB]⊙[/SUB] assuming a Navarro-Frenk-White model with a concentration parameter of c [SUB]vir[/SUB] = 6, or a singular isothermal sphere profile with a velocity dispersion of ~670 km s[SUP]-1[/SUP]. We place constraints on the location of the dark matter halo, as well as the velocity dispersions of the galaxies. In addition, we discuss the influence of differential reddening, microlensing, and intrinsic variability on the quasar spectra and broadband photometry. Based on data collected at Subaru Telescope, which is operated by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan. Use of the UH2.2 m telescope for the observations is supported by NAOJ. [less ▲]

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See detailDiscovery of X-Ray Emission from Young Suns in the Small Magellanic Cloud
Oskinova, L. M.; Sun, W.; Evans, C. J. et al

in Astrophysical Journal (2013), 765

We report the discovery of extended X-ray emission within the young star cluster NGC 602a in the Wing of the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC) based on observations obtained with the Chandra X-Ray Observatory ... [more ▼]

We report the discovery of extended X-ray emission within the young star cluster NGC 602a in the Wing of the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC) based on observations obtained with the Chandra X-Ray Observatory. X-ray emission is detected from the cluster core area with the highest stellar density and from a dusty ridge surrounding the H II region. We use a census of massive stars in the cluster to demonstrate that a cluster wind or wind-blown bubble is unlikely to provide a significant contribution to the X-ray emission detected from the central area of the cluster. We therefore suggest that X-ray emission at the cluster core originates from an ensemble of low- and solar-mass pre-main-sequence (PMS) stars, each of which would be too weak in X-rays to be detected individually. We attribute the X-ray emission from the dusty ridge to the embedded tight cluster of the newborn stars known in this area from infrared studies. Assuming that the levels of X-ray activity in young stars in the low-metallicity environment of NGC 602a are comparable to their Galactic counterparts, then the detected spatial distribution, spectral properties, and level of X-ray emission are largely consistent with those expected from low- and solar-mass PMS stars and young stellar objects (YSOs). This is the first discovery of X-ray emission attributable to PMS stars and YSOs in the SMC, which suggests that the accretion and dynamo processes in young, low-mass objects in the SMC resemble those in the Galaxy. [less ▲]

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See detailA Detailed X-Ray Investigation of ζ Puppis. II. The Variability on Short and Long Timescales
Nazé, Yaël ULiege; Oskinova, Lidia M.; Gosset, Eric ULiege

in Astrophysical Journal (2013), 763

Stellar winds are a crucial component of massive stars, but their exact properties still remain uncertain. To shed some light on this subject, we have analyzed an exceptional set of X-ray observations of ... [more ▼]

Stellar winds are a crucial component of massive stars, but their exact properties still remain uncertain. To shed some light on this subject, we have analyzed an exceptional set of X-ray observations of ζ Puppis, one of the closest and brightest massive stars. The sensitive light curves that were derived reveal two major results. On the one hand, a slow modulation of the X-ray flux (with a relative amplitude of up to 15% over 16 hr in the 0.3-4.0 keV band) is detected. Its characteristic timescale cannot be determined with precision, but amounts from one to several days. It could be related to corotating interaction regions, known to exist in ζ Puppis from UV observations. Hour-long changes, linked to flares or to the pulsation activity, are not observed in the last decade covered by the XMM observations; the 17 hr tentative period, previously reported in a ROSAT analysis, is not confirmed either and is thus transient, at best. On the other hand, short-term changes are surprisingly small (<1% relative amplitude for the total energy band). In fact, they are compatible solely with the presence of Poisson noise in the data. This surprisingly low level of short-term variability, in view of the embedded wind-shock origin, requires a very high fragmentation of the stellar wind, for both absorbing and emitting features (>10[SUP]5[/SUP] parcels, comparing with a two-dimensional wind model). This is the first time that constraints have been placed on the number of clumps in an O-type star wind and from X-ray observations. Based on observations collected with XMM-Newton, an ESA Science Mission with instruments and contributions directly funded by ESA Member States and the USA (NASA). [less ▲]

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See detailMOA-2010-BLG-523: "Failed Planet" = RS CVn Star
Gould, A.; Yee, J. C.; Bond, I. A. et al

in Astrophysical Journal (2013), 763

The Galactic bulge source MOA-2010-BLG-523S exhibited short-term deviations from a standard microlensing light curve near the peak of an A [SUB]max[/SUB] ~ 265 high-magnification microlensing event. The ... [more ▼]

The Galactic bulge source MOA-2010-BLG-523S exhibited short-term deviations from a standard microlensing light curve near the peak of an A [SUB]max[/SUB] ~ 265 high-magnification microlensing event. The deviations originally seemed consistent with expectations for a planetary companion to the principal lens. We combine long-term photometric monitoring with a previously published high-resolution spectrum taken near peak to demonstrate that this is an RS CVn variable, so that planetary microlensing is not required to explain the light-curve deviations. This is the first spectroscopically confirmed RS CVn star discovered in the Galactic bulge. Based on observations made with the European Southern Observatory telescopes, Program ID 85.B-0399(I). [less ▲]

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See detailAn interferometric study of the Fomalhaut inner debris disk II. Keck Nuller mid-infrared observations
Mennesson, B.; Absil, Olivier ULiege; Lebreton, J. et al

in Astrophysical Journal (2013), 763

We report on high contrast mid-infrared observations of Fomalhaut obtained with the Keck Interferometer Nuller (KIN) showing a small resolved excess over the level expected from the stellar photosphere ... [more ▼]

We report on high contrast mid-infrared observations of Fomalhaut obtained with the Keck Interferometer Nuller (KIN) showing a small resolved excess over the level expected from the stellar photosphere. The measured null excess has a mean value of 0.35% +/- 0.10% between 8 and 11 microns and increases from 8 to 13 microns. Given the small field of view of the instrument, the source of this marginal excess must be contained within 2AU of Fomalhaut. This result is reminiscent of previous VLTI K-band observations, which implied the presence of a ~ 0.88% excess, and argued that thermal emission from hot dusty grains located within 6 AU from Fomalhaut was the most plausible explanation. Using a parametric 2D radiative transfer code and a Bayesian analysis, we examine different dust disk structures to reproduce both the near and mid-infrared data simultaneously. While not a definitive explanation of the hot excess of Fomalhaut, our model suggests that the most likely inner few AU disk geometry consists of a two-component structure, with two different and spatially distinct grain populations. The 2 to 11 microns data are consistent with an inner hot ring of very small (~ 10 to 300 nm) carbon-rich grains concentrating around 0.1AU. The second dust population consists of larger grains (size of a few microns to a few tens of microns) located further out in a colder region where regular astronomical silicates could survive, with an inner edge around 1AU. From a dynamical point of view, the presence of the inner concentration of sub-micron sized grains is surprising, as such grains should be expelled from the inner planetary system by radiation pressure within only a few years. This could either point to some inordinate replenishment rates (e.g. many grazing comets coming from an outer reservoir) or to the existence of some braking mechanism preventing the grains from moving out. [less ▲]

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See detailSpitzer Observations of GJ3470b: a Very Low-density Neptune-size Planet Orbiting a Metal-rich M dwarf
Demory, Brice-Olivier; Torres, Guillermo; Neves, Vasco et al

in Astrophysical Journal (2013)

We present Spitzer/IRAC 4.5-micron transit photometry of GJ3470b, a Neptune-size planet orbiting a M1.5 dwarf star with a 3.3-day period recently discovered in the course of the HARPS M-dwarf survey. We ... [more ▼]

We present Spitzer/IRAC 4.5-micron transit photometry of GJ3470b, a Neptune-size planet orbiting a M1.5 dwarf star with a 3.3-day period recently discovered in the course of the HARPS M-dwarf survey. We refine the stellar parameters by employing purely empirical mass-luminosity and surface brightness relations constrained by our updated value for the mean stellar density, and additional information from new near-infrared spectroscopic observations. We derive a stellar mass of M_star = 0.539+0.047-0.043 M_sun and a radius of R_star = 0.568+0.037-0.031 R_sun. We determine the host star of GJ3470b to be metal-rich, with a metallicity of [Fe/H] = +0.20 +/- 0.10 and an effective temperature of Teff = 3600 +/- 100 K. The revised stellar parameters yield a planetary radius R_pl = 4.83+0.22-0.21 R_Earth that is 13 percent larger than the value previously reported in the literature. We find a planetary mass M_pl = 13.9+1.5-1.4 M_Earth that translates to a very low planetary density, rho_pl = 0.72+0.13-0.12 gcm-3, which is 33% smaller than the original value. With a mean density half of that of GJ436b, GJ3470b is an example of a very low-density low-mass planet, similar to Kepler-11d, Kepler-11e, and Kepler-18c but orbiting a much brighter nearby star that is more conducive to follow-up studies. [less ▲]

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See detailSpitzer Transits of the Super-Earth GJ1214b and Implications for Its Atmosphere
Fraine, Jonathan D.; Deming, Drake; Gillon, Michaël ULiege et al

in Astrophysical Journal (2013), 765(2), 127

We observed the transiting super-Earth exoplanet GJ1214b using Warm Spitzer at 4.5 microns wavelength during a 20-day quasi-continuous sequence in May 2011. The goals of our long observation were to ... [more ▼]

We observed the transiting super-Earth exoplanet GJ1214b using Warm Spitzer at 4.5 microns wavelength during a 20-day quasi-continuous sequence in May 2011. The goals of our long observation were to accurately define the infrared transit radius of this nearby super-Earth, to search for the secondary eclipse, and to search for other transiting planets in the habitable zone of GJ1214. We here report results from the transit monitoring of GJ1214b, including a re-analysis of previous transit observations by Desert et al. (2011). In total, we analyse 14 transits of GJ1214b at 4.5 microns, 3 transits at 3.6 microns, and 7 new ground-based transits in the I+z band. Our new Spitzer data by themselves eliminate cloudless solar composition atmospheres for GJ1214b, and methane-rich models from Howe & Burrows (2012). Using our new Spitzer measurements to anchor the observed transit radii of GJ1214b at long wavelengths, and adding new measurements in I+z, we evaluate models from Benneke & Seager (2012) and Howe & Burrows (2012) using a chi-squared analysis. We find that the best-fit model exhibits an increase in transit radius at short wavelengths due to Rayleigh scattering. Pure water atmospheres are also possible. However, a flat line (no atmosphere detected) remains among the best of the statistically acceptable models, and better than pure water atmospheres. We explore the effect of systematic differences among results from different observational groups, and we find that the Howe & Burrows (2012) tholin-haze model remains the best fit, even when systematic differences among observers are considered. [less ▲]

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See detailThe Newly Discovered Pulsating Low Mass White Dwarfs: An Extension of the ZZ Ceti Instability Strip
Van Grootel, Valérie ULiege; Fontaine, Gilles; Brassard, Pierre et al

in Astrophysical Journal (2013), 762

In light of the exciting discovery of g-mode pulsations in extremely low-mass, He-core DA white dwarfs, we report on the results of a detailed stability survey aimed at explaining the existence of these ... [more ▼]

In light of the exciting discovery of g-mode pulsations in extremely low-mass, He-core DA white dwarfs, we report on the results of a detailed stability survey aimed at explaining the existence of these new pulsators as well as their location in the spectroscopic Hertzsprung–Russell diagram. To this aim, we calculated some 28 evolutionary sequences of DA models with various masses and chemical layering. These models are characterized by the so-called ML2/α = 1.0 convective efficiency and take into account the important feedback effect of convection on the atmospheric structure. We pulsated the models with the nonadiabatic code MAD, which incorporates a detailed treatment of time-dependent convection. On the other hand, given the failure of all nonadiabatic codes, including MAD, to account properly for the red edge of the strip, we resurrect the idea that the red edge is due to energy leakage through the atmosphere. We thus estimated the location of that edge by requiring that the thermal timescale in the driving region—located at the base of the H convection zone—be equal to the critical period beyond which l = 1 g-modes cease to exist. Using this approach, we find that our theoretical ZZ Ceti instability strip accounts remarkably well for the boundaries of the empirical strip, including the low-gravity, low-temperature regime where the three new pulsators are found. We also account for the relatively long periods observed in these stars, and thus conclude that they are true ZZ Ceti stars, but with low masses. [less ▲]

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See detailMOA-2010-BLG-073L: An M-dwarf with a Substellar Companion at the Planet/Brown Dwarf Boundary
Street, R. A.; Choi, J.-Y.; Tsapras, Y. et al

in Astrophysical Journal (2013), 763

We present an analysis of the anomalous microlensing event, MOA-2010-BLG-073, announced by the Microlensing Observations in Astrophysics survey on 2010 March 18. This event was remarkable because the ... [more ▼]

We present an analysis of the anomalous microlensing event, MOA-2010-BLG-073, announced by the Microlensing Observations in Astrophysics survey on 2010 March 18. This event was remarkable because the source was previously known to be photometrically variable. Analyzing the pre-event source light curve, we demonstrate that it is an irregular variable over timescales >200 days. Its dereddened color, (V - I)[SUB] S, 0[/SUB], is 1.221 ± 0.051 mag, and from our lens model we derive a source radius of 14.7 ± 1.3 R [SUB]&sun;[/SUB], suggesting that it is a red giant star. We initially explored a number of purely microlensing models for the event but found a residual gradient in the data taken prior to and after the event. This is likely to be due to the variability of the source rather than part of the lensing event, so we incorporated a slope parameter in our model in order to derive the true parameters of the lensing system. We find that the lensing system has a mass ratio of q = 0.0654 ± 0.0006. The Einstein crossing time of the event, t [SUB]E[/SUB] = 44.3 ± 0.1 days, was sufficiently long that the light curve exhibited parallax effects. In addition, the source trajectory relative to the large caustic structure allowed the orbital motion of the lens system to be detected. Combining the parallax with the Einstein radius, we were able to derive the distance to the lens, D[SUB]L[/SUB] = 2.8 ± 0.4 kpc, and the masses of the lensing objects. The primary of the lens is an M-dwarf with M [SUB] L, 1[/SUB] = 0.16 ± 0.03 M [SUB]&sun;[/SUB], while the companion has M [SUB] L, 2[/SUB] = 11.0 ± 2.0 M [SUB]J[/SUB], putting it in the boundary zone between planets and brown dwarfs. [less ▲]

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