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    We present a high-contrast imaging survey of intermediate-mass (1.75–4.5 M⊙) stars to search the most extreme stellar binaries, i.e. for the lowest mass stellar companions. Using adaptive optics at the Lick and Gemini observatories, we observed 169 stars and detected 24 candidates companions, 16 of which are newly discovered, and all but three are likely or confirmed physical companions. Despite obtaining sensitivity down to the substellar limit for 75 per cent of our sample, we do not detect any companion below 0.3 M⊙, strongly suggesting that the distribution of stellar companions is truncated at a mass ratio of qmin ≳ 0.075. Combining our results with known brown dwarf companions, we identify a low-mass companion desert to intermediate-mass stars in the range 0.02 ≲ q ≲ 0.05, which quantitatively matches the known brown dwarf desert among solar-type stars. We conclude that the formation mechanism for multiple systems operates in a largely scale-invariant manner and precludes the formation of extremely uneven systems, likely because the components of a protobinary accrete most of their mass after the initial cloud fragmentation. Similarly, the mechanism to form ‘planetary’ (q ≲ 0.02) companions likely scales linearly with stellar mass, probably as a result of the correlation between the masses of stars and their protoplanetary discs. Finally, we predict the existence of a sizable population of brown dwarf companions to low-mass stars and of a rising population of planetary-mass objects towards ${\approx}1\,M_\mathrm{Jup}$ around solar-type stars. Improvements on current instrumentation will test these predictions.

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  2. Abstract Accreting protoplanets are windows into planet formation processes, and high-contrast differential imaging is an effective way to identify them. We report results from the Giant Accreting Protoplanet Survey (GAPlanetS), which collected H α differential imagery of 14 transitional disk host stars with the Magellan Adaptive Optics System. To address the twin challenges of morphological complexity and point-spread function instability, GAPlanetS required novel approaches for frame selection and optimization of the Karhounen–Loéve Image Processing algorithm pyKLIP . We detect one new candidate, CS Cha “c,” at a separation of 68 mas and a modest Δmag of 2.3. We recover the HD 142527 B and HD 100453 B accreting stellar companions in several epochs, and the protoplanet PDS 70 c in 2017 imagery, extending its astrometric record by nine months. Though we cannot rule out scattered light structure, we also recover LkCa 15 “b,” at H α ; its presence inside the disk cavity, absence in Continuum imagery, and consistency with a forward-modeled point source suggest that it remains a viable protoplanet candidate. Through targeted optimization, we tentatively recover PDS 70 c at two additional epochs and PDS 70 b in one epoch. Despite numerous previously reported companion candidates around GAplanetS targets, we recover no additional point sources. Our moderate H α contrasts do not preclude most protoplanets, and we report limiting H α contrasts at unrecovered candidate locations. We find an overall detection rate of ∼36 − 22 + 26 % , considerably higher than most direct imaging surveys, speaking to both GAPlanetS’s highly targeted nature and the promise of H α differential imaging for protoplanet identification. 
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  3. Abstract

    High-contrast imaging studies of debris disks have revealed a significant diversity in their morphologies, including large-scale asymmetries. Theories involving stellar flybys, an external source of gravitational disturbance, have offered a plausible explanation for the origin of these morphological variations. Our study is an experiment to gain empirical evidence that has been lacking from such theories. We explore this paradigm by using astrometric and radial velocity measurements from the Gaia DR2 and ground-based observations to trace the trajectories of 625 stars in the Sco-Cen OB association from 5 Myr in the past to 2 Myr in the future. We identified 119 stars that had at least one past flyby event occurring within one Hill radius, and 23 of these experienced flybys within 0.5 Hill radii. We found no evidence of a significant correlation between the presence of flyby events and infrared excess detections, although the sample is not uniformly sensitive to infrared excess emission. Ten stars that had past flyby events host resolved circumstellar disks that appear relatively symmetric in the existing data except for the circumbinary disk surrounding HD 106906. We determined the trajectory and relative velocity of each of these flyby events and compared these to the geometry of the spatially resolved disks. Future work is needed to measure the kinematics of lower-mass stars and to improve sensitivity to circumstellar disks for the entire sample.

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  4. Evans, Christopher J. ; Bryant, Julia J. ; Motohara, Kentaro (Ed.)
  5. Abstract

    Companions embedded in the cavities of transitional circumstellar disks have been observed to exhibit excess luminosity at Hα, an indication that they are actively accreting. We report 5 yr (2013–2018) of monitoring of the position and Hαexcess luminosity of the embedded, accreting low-mass stellar companion HD 142527 B from the MagAO/VisAO instrument. We usepyklip, a Python implementation of the Karhunen–Loeve Image Processing algorithm, to detect the companion. Usingpyklipforward modeling, we constrain the relative astrometry to 1–2 mas precision and achieve sufficient photometric precision (±0.2 mag, 3% error) to detect changes in the Hαcontrast of the companion over time. In order to accurately determine the relative astrometry of the companion, we conduct an astrometric calibration of the MagAO/VisAO camera against 20 yr of Keck/NIRC2 images of the Trapezium cluster. We demonstrate agreement of our VisAO astrometry with other published positions for HD 142527 B, and useorbitize!to generate a posterior distribution of orbits fit to the relative astrometry of HD 142527 B. Our data suggest that the companion is close to periastron passage, on an orbit significantly misaligned with respect to both the wide circumbinary disk and the recently observed inner disk encircling HD 142527 A. We translate observed Hαcontrasts for HD 142527 B into mass accretion rate estimates on the order of 4–9 × 10−10Myr−1. Photometric variation in the Hαexcess of the companion suggests that the accretion rate onto the companion is variable. This work represents a significant step toward observing accretion-driven variability onto protoplanets, such as PDS 70 b&c.

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  6. Evans, Christopher J. ; Bryant, Julia J. ; Motohara, Kentaro (Ed.)
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  9. Abstract

    The HR 2562 system is a rare case where a brown dwarf companion resides in a cleared inner hole of a debris disk, offering invaluable opportunities to study the dynamical interaction between a substellar companion and a dusty disk. We present the first ALMA observation of the system as well as the continued Gemini Planet Imager monitoring of the companion’s orbit with six new epochs from 2016 to 2018. We update the orbital fit, and in combination with absolute astrometry from GAIA, place a 3σupper limit of 18.5MJon the companion’s mass. To interpret the ALMA observations, we used radiative transfer modeling to determine the disk properties. We find that the disk is well resolved and nearly edge-on. While the misalignment angle between the disk and the orbit is weakly constrained, due to the short orbital arc available, the data strongly support a (near) coplanar geometry for the system. Furthermore, we find that the models that describe the ALMA data best have inner radii that are close to the companion’s semimajor axis. Including a posteriori knowledge of the system’s SED further narrows the constraints on the disk’s inner radius and places it at a location that is in reasonable agreement with (possibly interior to) predictions from existing dynamical models of disk truncation by an interior substellar companion. HR 2562 has the potential over the next few years to become a new test bed for dynamical interaction between a debris disk and a substellar companion.

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  10. Evans, Christopher J. ; Bryant, Julia J. ; Motohara, Kentaro (Ed.)