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  1. Abstract

    Sand patches are one of the precursors to early stage protodunes and occur widely in both desert and coastal aeolian environments. Here we show field evidence of a mechanism to explain the initiation of sand patches on non‐erodible surfaces, such as desert gravels and moist beaches. Changes in sand transport dynamics, directly associated with the height of the saltation layer and variable transport law, observed at the boundary between non‐erodible and erodible surfaces lead to sand deposition on the erodible surface. This explains how sand patches can form on surfaces with limited sand availability where linear stability of dune theory does not apply. This new mechanism is supported by field observations that evidence both the change in transport rate over different surfaces and in situ patch formation that leads to modification of transport dynamics at the surface boundary.

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  2. Aims. HD 206893 is a nearby debris disk star that hosts a previously identified brown dwarf companion with an orbital separation of ∼10 au. Long-term precise radial velocity (RV) monitoring, as well as anomalies in the system proper motion, has suggested the presence of an additional, inner companion in the system. Methods. Using information from ongoing precision RV measurements with the HARPS spectrograph, as well as Gaia host star astrometry, we have undertaken a multi-epoch search for the purported additional planet using the VLTI/GRAVITY instrument. Results. We report a high-significance detection over three epochs of the companion HD 206893c, which shows clear evidence for Keplerian orbital motion. Our astrometry with ∼50−100 μarcsec precision afforded by GRAVITY allows us to derive a dynamical mass of 12.7$ ^{+1.2}_{-1.0} $ M Jup and an orbital separation of 3.53$ ^{+0.08}_{-0.06} $ au for HD 206893c. Our fits to the orbits of both companions in the system use both Gaia astrometry and RVs to also provide a precise dynamical estimate of the previously uncertain mass of the B component, and therefore allow us to derive an age of 155 ± 15 Myr for the system. We find that theoretical atmospheric and evolutionary models that incorporate deuterium burning for HD 206893c, parameterized by cloudy atmosphere models as well as a “hybrid sequence” (encompassing a transition from cloudy to cloud-free), provide a good simultaneous fit to the luminosity of both HD 206893B and c. Thus, accounting for both deuterium burning and clouds is crucial to understanding the luminosity evolution of HD 206893c. Conclusions. In addition to using long-term RV information, this effort is an early example of a direct imaging discovery of a bona fide exoplanet that was guided in part by Gaia astrometry. Utilizing Gaia astrometry is expected to be one of the primary techniques going forward for identifying and characterizing additional directly imaged planets. In addition, HD 206893c is an example of an object narrowly straddling the deuterium-burning limit but unambiguously undergoing deuterium burning. Additional discoveries like this may therefore help clarify the discrimination between a brown dwarf and an extrasolar planet. Lastly, this discovery is another example of the power of optical interferometry to directly detect and characterize extrasolar planets where they form, at ice-line orbital separations of 2−4 au. 
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  3. Context. HD 113337 is a main-sequence F6V field star more massive than the Sun. This star hosts one confirmed giant planet and possibly a second candidate, detected by radial velocities (RVs). The star also hosts a cold debris disc detected through the presence of an infrared excess, making it an interesting system to explore. Aims. We aim to bring new constraints on the star’s fundamental parameters, debris disc properties, and planetary companion(s) by combining complementary techniques. Methods. We used the VEGA interferometer on the CHARA array to measure the angular diameter of HD 113337. We derived its linear radius using the parallax from the Gaia Second Data Release. We computed the bolometric flux to derive its effective temperature and luminosity, and we estimated its mass and age using evolutionary tracks. Then, we used Herschel images to partially resolve the outer debris disc and estimate its extension and inclination. Next, we acquired high-contrast images of HD 113337 with the LBTI to probe the ~10–80 au separation range. Finally, we combined the deduced contrast maps with previous RVs of the star using the MESS2 software to bring upper mass limits on possible companions at all separations up to 80 au. We took advantage of the constraints on the age and inclination brought by fundamental parameter analysis and disc imaging, respectively, for this analysis. Results. We derive a limb-darkened angular diameter of 0.386 ± 0.009 mas that converts into a linear radius of 1.50 ± 0.04 R ⊙ for HD 113337. The fundamental parameter analysis leads to an effective temperature of 6774 ± 125 K and to two possible age solutions: one young within 14–21 Myr and one old within 0.8–1.7 Gyr. We partially resolve the known outer debris disc and model its emission. Our best solution corresponds to a radius of 85 ± 20 au, an extension of 30 ± 20 au, and an inclination within 10–30° for the outer disc. The combination of imaging contrast limits, published RV, and age and inclination solutions allows us to derive a first possible estimation of the true masses of the planetary companions: ~7 −2 +4 M Jup for HD 113337 b (confirmed companion) and ~16 −3 +10 M Jup for HD 113337 c (candidate companion). We also constrain possible additional companions at larger separations. 
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