The Messenger Telescopes and Instrumentation

NEAR: First Results from the Search for Low-Mass Planets in α Cen

  • Kasper, Markus [European Southern Observatory (ESO)]
  • Arsenault, Robin [European Southern Observatory (ESO)]
  • Käufl, Ulli [European Southern Observatory (ESO)]
  • Jakob, Gerd [European Southern Observatory (ESO)]
  • Leveratto, Serban [European Southern Observatory (ESO)]
  • Zins, Gerard [European Southern Observatory (ESO)]
  • Pantin, Eric [AIM, CEA, CNRS, Université Paris- Saclay, Université Paris Diderot, Sorbonne Paris Cité, Gif-sur-Yvette, France]
  • Duhoux, Philippe [European Southern Observatory (ESO)]
  • Riquelme, Miguel [European Southern Observatory (ESO)]
  • Kirchbauer, Jean-Paul [European Southern Observatory (ESO)]
  • Kolb, Johann [European Southern Observatory (ESO)]
  • Pathak, Prashant [European Southern Observatory (ESO)]
  • Siebenmorgen, Ralf [European Southern Observatory (ESO)]
  • Soenke, Christian [European Southern Observatory (ESO)]
  • Fuenteseca, Eloy [European Southern Observatory (ESO)]
  • Sterzik, Michael [European Southern Observatory (ESO)]
  • Ageorges, Nancy [Kampf Telescope Optics (KT Optics), Munich, Germany]
  • Gutruf, Sven [Kampf Telescope Optics (KT Optics), Munich, Germany]
  • Kampf, Dirk [Kampf Telescope Optics (KT Optics), Munich, Germany]
  • Reutlinger, Arnd [Kampf Telescope Optics (KT Optics), Munich, Germany]
  • Absil, Olivier [University of Liège, Liège, Belgium]
  • Delacroix, Christian [University of Liège, Liège, Belgium]
  • Maire, Anne-Lise [University of Liège, Liège, Belgium]
  • Huby, Elsa [Observatoire de Paris-Meudon, France]
  • Guyon, Olivier [Subaru Telescope, Tokyo, Japan; Breakthrough Initiatives, Mountainview, USA]
  • Klupar, Pete [Breakthrough Initiatives, Mountainview, USA]
  • Mawet, Dimitri [Caltech, Pasadena, USA]
  • Ruane, Garreth [Caltech, Pasadena, USA]
  • Karlsson, Mikael [Uppsala University, Sweden]
  • Dohlen, Kjetil [Laboratoire d’Astrophysique Marseille, France]
  • Vigan, Arthur [Laboratoire d’Astrophysique Marseille, France]
  • N’Diaye, Mamadou [Observatoire de la Côte d’Azur, Nice, France]
  • Quanz, Sascha [Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich, Switzerland]
  • Carlotti, Alexis [Institude de Planétologie et d’Astrophysique de Grenoble, France]

Telescopes and Instrumentation

ESO, in collaboration with the Breakthrough Initiatives, has modified the VLT mid-infrared imager VISIR to greatly enhance its ability as a planet finder. It has conducted a 100-hour observing campaign to search for low-mass planets around both components of the binary a Centauri, part of the closest stellar system to the Earth. Using adaptive optics and high-performance coronagraphy, the instrument reached unprecedented contrast and sensitivity allowing it to see Neptune-sized planets in the habitable zone, if present. The experiment allowed us to characterise the current limitations of the instrument. We conclude that the detection of rocky planets similar to Earth in the habitable zone of the a Centauri System is already possible with 8-metre-class telescopes in the thermal infrared.

Created: 2019-12-01/2019-12-31
5 pages

Cite this article:

M. Kasper, R. Arsenault, U. Käufl, G. Jakob, S. Leveratto, G. Zins, E. Pantin, P. Duhoux, M. Riquelme, J. Kirchbauer, J. Kolb, P. Pathak, R. Siebenmorgen, C. Soenke, E. Fuenteseca, M. Sterzik, N. Ageorges, S. Gutruf, D. Kampf, A. Reutlinger, O. Absil, C. Delacroix, A. Maire, E. Huby, O. Guyon, P. Klupar, D. Mawet, G. Ruane, M. Karlsson, K. Dohlen, A. Vigan, M. N’Diaye, S. Quanz, A. Carlotti; NEAR: First Results from the Search for Low-Mass Planets in α Cen. The Messenger 178 (December 2019): 5–9.