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Title: Direct Imaging of Warm Extrasolar Planets

Abstract

One of the most exciting scientific discoveries in the last decade of the twentieth century was the first detection of planets orbiting a star other than our own. By now more than 130 extrasolar planets have been discovered indirectly, by observing the gravitational effects of the planet on the radial velocity of its parent star. This technique has fundamental limitations: it is most sensitive to planets close to their star, and it determines only a planet's orbital period and a lower limit on the planet's mass. As a result, all the planetary systems found so far are very different from our own--they have giant Jupiter-sized planets orbiting close to their star, where the terrestrial planets are found in our solar system. Such systems have overturned the conventional paradigm of planet formation, but have no room in them for habitable Earth-like planets. A powerful complement to radial velocity detections of extrasolar planets will be direct imaging--seeing photons from the planet itself. Such a detection would allow photometric measurements to determine the temperature and radius of a planet. Also, direct detection is most sensitive to planets in wide orbits, and hence more capable of seeing solar systems resembling our own, since amore » giant planet in a wide orbit does not preclude the presence of an Earth-like planet closer to the star. Direct detection, however, is extremely challenging. Jupiter is roughly a billion times fainter than our sun. Two techniques allowed us to overcome this formidable contrast and attempt to see giant planets directly. The first is adaptive optics (AO) which allows giant earth-based telescopes, such as the 10 meter W.M. Keck telescope, to partially overcome the blurring effects of atmospheric turbulence. The second is looking for young planets: by searching in the infrared for companions to young stars, we can see thermal emission from planets that are still warm with the heat of their formation. Together with a UCLA team that leads the field of young-star identification, we carried out a systematic near-infrared search for young planetary companions to {approx}200 young stars. We also carried out targeted high-sensitivity observations of selected stars surrounded by circumstellar dust rings. We developed advanced image processing techniques to allow detection of even fainter sources buried in the noisy halo of scattered starlight. Even with these techniques, around most of our targets our search was only sensitive to planets in orbits significantly wider than our solar system. With some carefully selected targets--very young dusty stars in the solar neighborhood--we reach sensitivities sufficient to see solar systems like our own. Although we discovered no unambiguous planets, we can significantly constrain the frequency of such planets in wide (>50 AU) orbits, which helps determine which models of planet formation remain plausible. Successful modeling of our observations has led us to the design of a next-generation AO system that will truly be capable of exploring solar systems resembling our own.« less

Authors:
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Lawrence Livermore National Lab., Livermore, CA (US)
Sponsoring Org.:
US Department of Energy (US)
OSTI Identifier:
15016011
Report Number(s):
UCRL-TR-211332
TRN: US0501790
DOE Contract Number:  
W-7405-ENG-48
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Resource Relation:
Other Information: PBD: 11 Apr 2005
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
71 CLASSICAL AND QUANTUM MECHANICS, GENERAL PHYSICS; 72 PHYSICS OF ELEMENTARY PARTICLES AND FIELDS; 99 GENERAL AND MISCELLANEOUS//MATHEMATICS, COMPUTING, AND INFORMATION SCIENCE; DETECTION; DUSTS; IMAGE PROCESSING; METERS; OPTICS; PHOTONS; PLANETS; RADIAL VELOCITY; SIMULATION; SOLAR SYSTEM; STARS; SUN; TARGETS; TELESCOPES; TURBULENCE

Citation Formats

Macintosh, B. Direct Imaging of Warm Extrasolar Planets. United States: N. p., 2005. Web. doi:10.2172/15016011.
Macintosh, B. Direct Imaging of Warm Extrasolar Planets. United States. doi:10.2172/15016011.
Macintosh, B. Mon . "Direct Imaging of Warm Extrasolar Planets". United States. doi:10.2172/15016011. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/15016011.
@article{osti_15016011,
title = {Direct Imaging of Warm Extrasolar Planets},
author = {Macintosh, B},
abstractNote = {One of the most exciting scientific discoveries in the last decade of the twentieth century was the first detection of planets orbiting a star other than our own. By now more than 130 extrasolar planets have been discovered indirectly, by observing the gravitational effects of the planet on the radial velocity of its parent star. This technique has fundamental limitations: it is most sensitive to planets close to their star, and it determines only a planet's orbital period and a lower limit on the planet's mass. As a result, all the planetary systems found so far are very different from our own--they have giant Jupiter-sized planets orbiting close to their star, where the terrestrial planets are found in our solar system. Such systems have overturned the conventional paradigm of planet formation, but have no room in them for habitable Earth-like planets. A powerful complement to radial velocity detections of extrasolar planets will be direct imaging--seeing photons from the planet itself. Such a detection would allow photometric measurements to determine the temperature and radius of a planet. Also, direct detection is most sensitive to planets in wide orbits, and hence more capable of seeing solar systems resembling our own, since a giant planet in a wide orbit does not preclude the presence of an Earth-like planet closer to the star. Direct detection, however, is extremely challenging. Jupiter is roughly a billion times fainter than our sun. Two techniques allowed us to overcome this formidable contrast and attempt to see giant planets directly. The first is adaptive optics (AO) which allows giant earth-based telescopes, such as the 10 meter W.M. Keck telescope, to partially overcome the blurring effects of atmospheric turbulence. The second is looking for young planets: by searching in the infrared for companions to young stars, we can see thermal emission from planets that are still warm with the heat of their formation. Together with a UCLA team that leads the field of young-star identification, we carried out a systematic near-infrared search for young planetary companions to {approx}200 young stars. We also carried out targeted high-sensitivity observations of selected stars surrounded by circumstellar dust rings. We developed advanced image processing techniques to allow detection of even fainter sources buried in the noisy halo of scattered starlight. Even with these techniques, around most of our targets our search was only sensitive to planets in orbits significantly wider than our solar system. With some carefully selected targets--very young dusty stars in the solar neighborhood--we reach sensitivities sufficient to see solar systems like our own. Although we discovered no unambiguous planets, we can significantly constrain the frequency of such planets in wide (>50 AU) orbits, which helps determine which models of planet formation remain plausible. Successful modeling of our observations has led us to the design of a next-generation AO system that will truly be capable of exploring solar systems resembling our own.},
doi = {10.2172/15016011},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {2005},
month = {4}
}

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