skip to main content

Title: Searching for flaring star–planet interactions in AU Mic TESS observations

Planets that closely orbit magnetically active stars are thought to be able to interact with their magnetic fields in a way that modulates stellar activity. This modulation in phase with the planetary orbit, such as enhanced X-ray activity, chromospheric spots, radio emission, or flares, is considered the clearest sign of magnetic star–planet interaction (SPI). However, the magnitude of this interaction is poorly constrained, and the intermittent nature of the interaction is a challenge for observers. AU Mic is an early M dwarf, and the most actively flaring planet host detected to date. Its innermost companion, AU Mic b, is a promising target for magnetic SPI observations. We used optical light curves of AU Mic obtained by the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite to search for signs of flaring SPI with AU Mic b using a customized Anderson–Darling test. In the about 50 d of observations, the flare distributions with orbital, rotational, and synodic periods were generally consistent with intrinsic stellar flaring. We found the strongest deviation (p = 0.07, n = 71) from intrinsic flaring with the orbital period of AU Mic b, in the high-energy half of our sample (ED > 1 s). If it reflects the true SPI signal from AU Mic b, more » extending the observing time by a factor of 2–3 will yield a >3σ detection. Continued monitoring of AU Mic may therefore reveal flaring SPI with orbital phase, while rotational modulation will smear out due to the star’s strong differential rotation.

« less
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
p. 4579-4586
Oxford University Press
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract

    We present a study of the variation timescales of the chromospheric activity indicator Hαon a sample of 13 fully convective, active mid-to-late M stars with masses between 0.1 and 0.3 solar masses. Our goal was to determine the dominant variability timescale and, by inference, a possible mechanism responsible for the variation. We gathered 10 or more high-resolution spectra each of 10 stars using the TRES spectrograph at times chosen to span all phases of stellar rotation, as determined from photometric data from the MEarth Observatories. All stars varied in their Hαemission. For nine of these stars, we found no correlation between Hαand rotational phase, indicating that constant emission from fixed magnetic structures, such as star spots and plage, are unlikely to be the dominant source of Hαemission variability. In contrast, one star, G 7–34, shows a clear relationship between Hαand stellar rotational phase. Intriguingly, we found that this star is a member of the AB Doradus moving group and hence has the young age of 149 Myr. High-cadence spectroscopic observations of three additional stars revealed that they are variable on timescales ranging from 20 to 45 minutes, which we posit may be due to flaring behavior. For one star,more »GJ 1111, simultaneous TESS photometry and spectroscopic monitoring show an increase in Hαemission with increased photometric brightness. We conclude that low-energy flares are able to produce variation in Hαon the timescales we observe and thus may be the dominant source of Hαvariability on active fully convective M dwarfs.

    « less
  2. Abstract

    HR 8799 is a young A5/F0 star hosting four directly imaged giant planets at wide separations (∼16–78 au), which are undergoing orbital motion and have been continuously monitored with adaptive optics imaging since their discovery over a decade ago. We present a dynamical mass of HR 8799 using 130 epochs of relative astrometry of its planets, which include both published measurements and new medium-band 3.1μm observations that we acquired with NIRC2 at Keck Observatory. For the purpose of measuring the host-star mass, each orbiting planet is treated as a massless particle and is fit with a Keplerian orbit using Markov chain Monte Carlo. We then use a Bayesian framework to combine each independent total mass measurement into a cumulative dynamical mass using all four planets. The dynamical mass of HR 8799 is1.470.17+0.12Massuming a uniform stellar mass prior, or1.460.15+0.11Mwith a weakly informative prior based on spectroscopy. There is a strong covariance between the planets’ eccentricities and the total system mass; when the constraint is limited to low-eccentricity solutions ofe< 0.1, which are motivated by dynamical stability, our mass measurement improves to1.430.07+0.06M. Our dynamical mass and other fundamental measured parameters of HRmore »8799 together with Modules for Experiments in Stellar Astrophysics Isochrones and Stellar Tracks grids yields a bulk metallicity most consistent with [Fe/H] ∼ −0.25–0.00 dex and an age of 10–23 Myr for the system. This implies hot-start masses of 2.7–4.9MJupfor HR 8799 b and 4.1–7.0MJupfor HR 8799 c, d, and e, assuming they formed at the same time as the host star.

    « less

    In this paper, we present high-resolution spectroscopic transit observations from ESPRESSO of the super-Neptune WASP-166 b. In addition to spectroscopic ESPRESSO data, we analyse photometric data from TESS of six WASP-166 b transits along with simultaneous NGTS observations of the ESPRESSO runs. These observations were used to fit for the planetary parameters as well as assessing the level of stellar activity (e.g. spot crossings, flares) present during the ESPRESSO observations. We utilize the reloaded Rossiter McLaughlin (RRM) technique to spatially resolve the stellar surface, characterizing the centre-to-limb convection-induced variations, and to refine the star–planet obliquity. We find WASP-166 b has a projected obliquity of $\lambda = -15.52^{+2.85}_{-2.76}\, ^{\circ }$ and vsin (i) = 4.97 ± 0.09 km s−1 which is consistent with the literature. We were able to characterize centre-to-limb convective variations as a result of granulation on the surface of the star on the order of a few km s−1 for the first time. We modelled the centre-to-limb convective variations using a linear, quadratic, and cubic model with the cubic being preferred. In addition, by modelling the differential rotation and centre-to-limb convective variations simultaneously, we were able to retrieve a potential antisolar differential rotational shear (α ∼ −0.5) and stellar inclination (i* either 42.03$^{+9.13}_{-9.60}\, ^{\circ }$ ormore »133.64$^{+8.42}_{-7.98}\, ^{\circ }$ if the star is pointing towards or away from us). Finally, we investigate how the shape of the cross-correlation functions change as a function of limb angle and compare our results to magnetohydrodynamic simulations.

    « less
  4. Abstract

    Kepler-289 is a three-planet system containing two sub-Neptunes and one cool giant planet orbiting a young, Sun-like star. All three planets exhibit transit timing variations (TTVs), with both adjacent planet pairs having orbital periods close to the 2:1 orbital resonance. We observe two transits of Kepler-289c with the Wide-field InfraRed Camera on the 200″ Hale Telescope at Palomar Observatory, using diffuser-assisted photometry to achieve space-like photometric precision from the ground. These new transit observations extend the original four-year Kepler TTV baseline by an additional 7.5 yr. We rereduce the archival Kepler data with an improved stellar activity correction and carry out a joint fit with the Palomar data to constrain the transit shapes and derive updated transit times. We then model the TTVs to determine the masses of the three planets and constrain their densities and bulk compositions. Our new analysis improves on previous mass and density constraints by a factor of two or more for all three planets, with the innermost planet showing the largest improvement. Our updated atmospheric mass fractions for the inner two planets indicate that they have hydrogen-rich envelopes, consistent with their location on the upper side of the radius valley. We also constrain themore »heavy element composition of the outer Saturn-mass planet, Kepler-289c, for the first time, finding that it contains 30.5 ± 6.9Mof metals. We use dust evolution models to show that Kepler-289c must have formed beyond 1 au, and likely beyond 3 au, and then migrated inward.

    « less
  5. Abstract

    The orientation between a star’s spin axis and a planet’s orbital plane provides valuable information about the system’s formation and dynamical history. For non-transiting planets at wide separations, true stellar obliquities are challenging to measure, but lower limits on spin–orbit orientations can be determined from the difference between the inclination of the star’s rotational axis and the companion’s orbital plane (Δi). We present results of a uniform analysis of rotation periods, stellar inclinations, and obliquities of cool stars (SpT ≳ F5) hosting directly imaged planets and brown dwarf companions. As part of this effort, we have acquired newvsini*values for 22 host stars with the high-resolution Tull spectrograph at the Harlan J. Smith telescope. Altogether our sample contains 62 host stars with rotation periods, most of which are newly measured using light curves from the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite. Among these, 53 stars have inclinations determined from projected rotational and equatorial velocities, and 21 stars predominantly hosting brown dwarfs have constraints on Δi. Eleven of these (5211+10% of the sample) are likely misaligned, while the remaining 10 host stars are consistent with spin–orbit alignment. As an ensemble, the minimum obliquity distribution between 10 andmore »250 au is more consistent with a mixture of isotropic and aligned systems than either extreme scenario alone—pointing to direct cloud collapse, formation within disks bearing primordial alignments and misalignments, or architectures processed by dynamical evolution. This contrasts with stars hosting directly imaged planets, which show a preference for low obliquities. These results reinforce an emerging distinction between the orbits of long-period brown dwarfs and giant planets in terms of their stellar obliquities and orbital eccentricities.

    « less