Monday, January 7, 2013

1212.5601 (J. Farihi et al.)

Orbital and Evolutionary Constraints on the Planet Hosting Binary GJ 86 from the Hubble Space Telescope    [PDF]

J. Farihi, Howard E. Bond, P. Dufour, N. Haghighipour, G. H. Schaefer, J. B. Holberg, M. A. Barstow, M. R. Burleigh
This paper presents new observations of the planet-hosting, visual binary GJ 86 (HR 637) using the Hubble Space Telescope. Ultraviolet and optical imaging with WFC3 confirms the stellar companion is a degenerate star and indicates the binary semimajor axis is larger than previous estimates, with a > 28 AU. Optical STIS spectroscopy of the secondary reveals a helium-rich white dwarf with C2 absorption bands and Teff = 8180 K, thus making the binary system rather similar to Procyon. Based on the 10.8 pc distance, the companion has 0.59 Msun and descended from a main-sequence A star of 1.9 Msun with an original orbital separation a > 14 AU. If the giant planet is coplanar with the binary, the mass of GJ 86Ab is between 4.4 and 4.7 MJup. The similarity of GJ 86 and Procyon prompted a re-analysis of the white dwarf in the latter system, with the tentative conclusion that Procyon hosts a planetesimal population. The periastron distance in Procyon is 20% smaller than in alpha Cen AB, but the metal-enriched atmosphere of Procyon B indicates that the planet formation process minimally attained 25 km bodies, if not small planets as in alpha Cen.
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