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  1. Abstract

    This tutorial is an introduction to High-Contrast Imaging, a technique that enables astronomers to isolate light from faint planets and/or circumstellar disks that would otherwise be lost amidst the light of their host stars. Although technically challenging, high-contrast imaging allows fordirectcharacterization of the properties of circumstellar sources. The intent of the article is to provide newcomers to the field a general overview of the terminology, observational considerations, data reduction strategies, and analysis techniques high-contrast imagers employ to identify, vet, and characterize planet and disk candidates.

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  2. Abstract

    We present resolved images of the inner disk component around HD 141569A using the Magellan adaptive optics system with the Clio2 1–5μm camera, offering a glimpse of a complex system thought to be in a short evolutionary phase between protoplanetary and debris disk stages. We use a reference star along with the Karhunen–Loéve image projection (KLIP) algorithm for point-spread function subtraction to detect the disk inward to about 0.″24 (∼25 au assuming a distance of 111 pc) at high signal-to-noise ratios atL(3.8μm),Ls(3.3μm), and narrowbandIce(3.1μm). We identify an arc or spiral arm structure at the southeast extremity, consistent with previous studies. We implement forward modeling with a simple disk model within the framework of a Markov Chain Monte Carlo sampler to better constrain the geometrical attributes and photometry using our KLIP-reduced disk images. We then leverage these modeling results to facilitate a comparison of the measured brightness in each passband to find a reduction in scattered light from the disk in theIcefilter, implying significant absorption due to water ice in the dust. Additionally, our best-fit disk models exhibit peak brightness in the southwestern, back-scattering region of the disk, which we suggest to be possible evidence of 3.3μm polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon emission. However, we point out the need for additional observations with bluer filters and more complex modeling to confirm these hypotheses.

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  3. Abstract

    We present a multi-epoch spectroscopic study of LkCa 4, a heavily spotted non-accreting T Tauri star. Using SpeX at NASA’s Infrared Telescope Facility (IRTF), 12 spectra were collected over five consecutive nights, spanning ≈1.5 stellar rotations. Using the IRTF SpeX Spectral Library, we constructed empirical composite models of spotted stars by combining a warmer (photosphere) standard star spectrum with a cooler (spot) standard weighted by the spot filling factor,fspot. The best-fit models spanned two photospheric component temperatures,Tphot= 4100 K (K7V) and 4400 K (K5V), and one spot component temperature,Tspot= 3060 K (M5V) with anAVof 0.3. We find values offspotto vary between 0.77 and 0.94 with an average uncertainty of ∼0.04. The variability offspotis periodic and correlates with its 3.374 day rotational period. Using a mean value forfmeanspotto represent the total spot coverage, we calculated spot corrected values forTeffandL. Placing these values alongside evolutionary models developed for heavily spotted young stars, we infer mass and age ranges of 0.45–0.6Mand 0.50–1.25 Myr, respectively. These inferred values represent a twofold increase in the mass and a twofold decrease in the age as compared to standard evolutionary models. Such a result highlights the need for constraining the contributions of cool and warm regions of young stellar atmospheres when estimatingTeffandLto infer masses and ages as well as the necessity for models to account for the effects of these regions on the early evolution of low-mass stars.

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  4. 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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  5. Abstract

    High-contrast imaging has afforded astronomers the opportunity to study light directly emitted by adolescent (tens of megayears) and “proto” (<10 Myr) planets still undergoing formation. Direct detection of these planets is enabled by empirical point-spread function (PSF) modeling and removal algorithms. The computational intensity of such algorithms, as well as their multiplicity of tunable input parameters, has led to the prevalence of ad hoc optimization approaches to high-contrast imaging results. In this work, we present a new, systematic approach to optimization vetted using data of the high-contrast stellar companion HD 142527 B from the Magellan Adaptive Optics Giant Accreting Protoplanet Survey (GAPlanetS). More specifically, we present a grid search technique designed to explore three influential parameters of the PSF subtraction algorithmpyKLIP: annuli, movement, and KL modes. We consider multiple metrics for postprocessed image quality in order to optimally recover at Hα(656 nm) synthetic planets injected into contemporaneous continuum (643 nm) images. These metrics include peak (single-pixel) signal-to-noise ratio (S/N), average (multipixel average) S/N, 5σcontrast, and false-positive fraction. We apply continuum-optimized KLIP reduction parameters to six Hαdirect detections of the low-mass stellar companion HD 142527 B and recover the companion at a range of separations. Relative to a single-informed, nonoptimized set of KLIP parameters applied to all data sets uniformly, our multimetric grid search optimization led to improvements in companion S/N of up to 1.2σ, with an average improvement of 0.6σ. Since many direct imaging detections lie close to the canonical 5σthreshold, even such modest improvements may result in higher yields in future imaging surveys.

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  6. 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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  7. Abstract Multiwavelength high-resolution imaging of protoplanetary disks has revealed the presence of multiple, varied substructures in their dust and gas components, which might be signposts of young, forming planetary systems. AB Aurigae bears an emblematic (pre)transitional disk showing spiral structures observed in the inner cavity of the disk in both the submillimeter (Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA); 1.3 mm, 12 CO) and near-infrared (Spectro-polarimetric High-contrast Exoplanet Research; 1.5–2.5 μ m) wavelengths, which have been claimed to arise from dynamical interactions with a massive companion. In this work, we present new deep K s (2.16 μ m) and L ′ (3.7 μ m) band images of AB Aurigae obtained with the L/M-band Infrared Camera on the Large Binocular Telescope, aimed for the detection of both planetary companions and extended disk structures. No point source is recovered, in particular at the outer regions of the disk, where a putative candidate ( ρ = 0.″681, PA = 7.°6) had been previously claimed. The nature of a second innermost planet candidate ( ρ = 0.″16, PA = 203.°9) cannot be investigated by the new data. We are able to derive 5 σ detection limits in both magnitude and mass for the system, going from 14 M Jup at 0.″3 (49 au) down to 3–4 M Jup at 0.″6 (98 au) and beyond, based on the ATMO 2020 evolutionary models. We detect the inner spiral structures (<0.″5) resolved in both CO and polarimetric H -band observations. We also recover the ring structure of the system at larger separation (0.″5–0.″7) showing a clear southeast/northwest asymmetry. This structure, observed for the first time at L ′ band, remains interior to the dust cavity seen at ALMA, suggesting an efficient dust trapping mechanism at play in the disk. 
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  8. 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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