Beta Pictoris

The Orbit of the Young Exoplanet beta Pictoris b

By Keith Cowing
April 3, 2014
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The Orbit of the Young Exoplanet beta Pictoris b

We present new astrometry for the young (12-21 Myr) exoplanet beta Pictoris b taken with the Gemini/NICI, Magellan/MagAO+Clio2, and Magellan/MagAO+VisAO instruments between 2009 and 2012.

The high dynamic range of our observations allows us to measure the relative position of beta Pic b with respect to its primary star with greater accuracy than previous observations. Based on a Markov Chain Monte Carlo analysis, we find the planet has an orbital semi-major axis of 9.2 [+8.3, -0.5] AU and orbital eccentricity <0.15 at 68% confidence (with 95% confidence intervals of 8.2-72.3 AU and 0.00-0.88 for semi-major axis and eccentricity, respectively). We find that the planet has reached its maximum projected elongation, enabling higher precision determination of the orbital parameters than previously possible, and that the planet’s projected separation is currently decreasing. With unsaturated data of the entire beta Pic system (primary star, planet, and disk) obtained thanks to NICI’s semi-transparent focal plane mask, we are able to tightly constrain the relative orientation of the circumstellar components. We find the orbital plane of the planet lies between the inner and outer disks but closer to the inner (warped) disk: the position angle (PA) of nodes (211.8 +/- 0.3 degrees) is 6-sigma greater than the PA of the spine of the outer disk and 1.8-sigma less than the warped inner disk PA. Finally, for the first time we are able to dynamically constrain the mass of the primary star beta Pic to 1.7 +/- 0.3 M_sun. Gemini NICI Planet-Finding Campaign: The Orbit of the Young Exoplanet beta Pictoris b

Eric L. Nielsen (1), Michael C. Liu (1), Zahed Wahhaj (2), Beth A. Biller (3), Thomas L. Hayward (4), Jared R. Males (5), Laird M. Close (5), Katie M. Morzinski (5), Andrew J. Skemer (5), Marc J. Kuchner (6), Mark Chun (1), Christ Ftaclas (1), Douglas W. Toomey (7) ((1) Institute for Astronomy, University of Hawaii (2) European Southern Observatory, Chile (3) University of Edinburgh (4) Gemini Observatory, Chile (5) Steward Observatory, University of Arizona (6) Goddard Space Flight Center (7) Mauna Kea Infrared) (Submitted on 27 Mar 2014)

Comments: 17 pages, 4 figures, 2 tables. Submitted to ApJ Subjects:

Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)

Cite as: arXiv:1403.7195 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:1403.7195v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)

Submission history From: Eric Nielsen [v1] Thu, 27 Mar 2014 20:00:00 GMT (616kb)

Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA Space Station Payload manager/space biologist, Away Teams, Journalist, Lapsed climber, Synaesthete, Na’Vi-Jedi-Freman-Buddhist-mix, ASL, Devon Island and Everest Base Camp veteran, (he/him) 🖖🏻