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  1. Abstract

    Directly observing exoplanets with coronagraphs is impeded by the presence of speckles from aberrations in the optical path, which can be mitigated in hardware with wave front control, as well as in post-processing. This work explores using an instrument model in post-processing to separate astrophysical signals from residual aberrations in coronagraphic data. The effect of wave front error (WFE) on the coronagraphic intensity consists of a linear contribution and a quadratic contribution. When either of the terms is much larger than the other, the instrument response can be approximated by a transfer matrix mapping WFE to detector plane intensity. From this transfer matrix, a useful projection onto instrumental modes that removes the dominant error modes can be derived. We apply this approach to synthetically generated Roman Space Telescope hybrid Lyot coronagraph data to extract “robust observables,” which can be used instead of raw data for applications such as detection testing. The projection improves planet flux ratio detection limits by about 28% in the linear regime and by over a factor of 2 in the quadratic regime, illustrating that robust observables can increase sensitivity to astrophysical signals and improve the scientific yield from coronagraphic data. While this approach does not require additional information such as observations of reference stars or modulations of a deformable mirror, it can and should be combined with these other techniques, acting as a model-informed prior in an overall post-processing strategy.

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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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  3. Geyl, Roland ; Navarro, Ramón (Ed.)
  4. 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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  5. Shaklan, Stuart B. ; Ruane, Garreth J. (Ed.)
    High quality, repeatable point-spread functions are important for science cases like direct exoplanet imaging, high-precision astrometry, and high-resolution spectroscopy of exoplanets. For such demanding applications, the initial on-sky point-spread function delivered by the adaptive optics system can require further optimization to correct unsensed static aberrations and calibration biases. We investigated using the Fast and Furious focal-plane wavefront sensing algorithm as a potential solution. This algorithm uses a simple model of the optical system and focal plane information to measure and correct the point-spread function phase, without using defocused images, meaning it can run concurrently with science. On-sky testing demonstrated significantly improved PSF quality in only a few iterations, with both narrow and broadband filters. These results suggest this algorithm is a useful path forward for creating and maintaining high-quality, repeatable on-sky adaptive optics point-spread functions. 
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  6. Evans, Christopher J. ; Bryant, Julia J. ; Motohara, Kentaro (Ed.)
  7. 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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  8. Evans, Christopher J. ; Bryant, Julia J. ; Motohara, Kentaro (Ed.)
  9. Schmidt, Dirk ; Schreiber, Laura ; Vernet, Elise (Ed.)
  10. 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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