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  1. Abstract

    We present the first results of a multiyear program to map the orbits of M-dwarf multiples within 25 pc. The observations were conducted primarily during 2019–2020 using speckle interferometry at the Southern Astrophysical Research Telescope in Chile, using the High-Resolution Camera mounted on the adaptive optics module (HRCam+SAM). The sample of nearby M dwarfs is drawn from three sources: multiples from the RECONS long-term astrometric monitoring program at the SMARTS 0.9 m; known multiples, for which these new observations will enable or improve orbit fits; and candidate multiples flagged by their astrometric fits in Gaia Data Release 2 (DR2). We surveyed 333 of our 338 M dwarfs via 830 speckle observations, detecting companions for 63% of the stars. Most notably, this includes new companions for 76% of the subset selected from Gaia DR2. In all, we report the first direct detections of 97 new stellar companions to the observed M dwarfs. Here we present the properties of those detections, the limits of each nondetection, and five orbits with periods 0.67–29 yr already observed as part of this program. Companions detected have projected separations of 0.″024–2.″0 (0.25–66 au) from their primaries and have ΔI≲ 5.0 mag. This multiyear campaign willmore »ultimately map complete orbits for nearby M dwarfs with periods up to 3 yr, and provide key epochs to stretch orbital determinations for binaries to 30 yr.

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  2. Abstract

    In order to assess the multiplicity statistics of stars across spectral types and populations in a volume-limited sample, we censused nearby stars for companions with Robo-AO. We report on observations of 1157 stars of all spectral types within 25 pc with decl. >−13° searching for tight companions. We detected 154 companion candidates with separations ranging from ∼0.″15 to 4.″0 and magnitude differences up to Δmi7using the robotic adaptive optics instrument Robo-AO. We confirmed physical association from Gaia EDR3 astrometry for 53 of the companion candidates, 99 remain to be confirmed, and two were ruled out as background objects. We complemented the high-resolution imaging companion search with a search for comoving objects with separations out to 10,000 au in Gaia EDR3, which resulted in an additional 147 companions registered. Of the 301 total companions reported in this study, 49 of them are new discoveries. Out of the 191 stars with significant acceleration measurements in the Hipparcos–Gaia catalog of accelerations, we detect companions around 115 of them, with the significance of the acceleration increasing as the companion separation decreases. From this survey, we report the following multiplicity fractions (compared to literature values): 40.9% ± 3.0% (44%) formore »FGK stars and 28.2% ± 2.3% (27%) for M stars, as well as higher-order fractions of 5.5% ± 1.1% (11%) and 3.9% ± 0.9% (5%) for FGK stars and M-type stars, respectively.

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  3. Abstract We present the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) discovery of the LHS 1678 (TOI-696) exoplanet system, comprised of two approximately Earth-sized transiting planets and a likely astrometric brown dwarf orbiting a bright ( V J = 12.5, K s = 8.3) M2 dwarf at 19.9 pc. The two TESS-detected planets are of radius 0.70 ± 0.04 R ⊕ and 0.98 ± 0.06 R ⊕ in 0.86 day and 3.69 day orbits, respectively. Both planets are validated and characterized via ground-based follow-up observations. High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher RV monitoring yields 97.7 percentile mass upper limits of 0.35 M ⊕ and 1.4 M ⊕ for planets b and c, respectively. The astrometric companion detected by the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory/Small and Moderate Aperture Telescope System 0.9 m has an orbital period on the order of decades and is undetected by other means. Additional ground-based observations constrain the companion to being a high-mass brown dwarf or smaller. Each planet is of unique interest; the inner planet has an ultra-short period, and the outer planet is in the Venus zone. Both are promising targets for atmospheric characterization with the James Webb Space Telescope and mass measurements via extreme-precision radial velocity. Amore »third planet candidate of radius 0.9 ± 0.1 R ⊕ in a 4.97 day orbit is also identified in multicycle TESS data for validation in future work. The host star is associated with an observed gap in the lower main sequence of the Hertzsprung–Russell diagram. This gap is tied to the transition from partially to fully convective interiors in M dwarfs, and the effect of the associated stellar astrophysics on exoplanet evolution is currently unknown. The culmination of these system properties makes LHS 1678 a unique, compelling playground for comparative exoplanet science and understanding the formation and evolution of small, short-period exoplanets orbiting low-mass stars.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 7, 2023