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  1. Abstract

    Thousands of exoplanet detections have been made over the last 25 years using Doppler observations, transit photometry, direct imaging, and astrometry. Each of these methods is sensitive to different ranges of orbital separations and planetary radii (or masses). This makes it difficult to fully characterize exoplanet architectures and to place our solar system in context with the wealth of discoveries that have been made. Here, we use the EXtreme PREcision Spectrograph to reveal planets in previously undetectable regions of the mass–period parameter space for the starρCoronae Borealis. We add two new planets to the previously known system with one hot Jupiter in a 39 day orbit and a warm super-Neptune in a 102 day orbit. The new detections include a temperate Neptune planet (Msini20M) in a 281.4 day orbit and a hot super-Earth (Msini=3.7M) in a 12.95 day orbit. This result shows that details of planetary system architectures have been hiding just below our previous detection limits; this signals an exciting era for the next generation of extreme precision spectrographs.

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  2. A planet’s orbital alignment places important constraints on how a planet formed and consequently evolved. The dominant formation pathway of ultra-short-period planets (P < 1 day) is particularly mysterious as such planets most likely formed further out, and it is not well understood what drove their migration inwards to their current positions. Measuring the orbital alignment is difficult for smaller super-Earth/sub-Neptune planets, which give rise to smaller amplitude signals. Here we present radial velocities across two transits of 55 Cancri (Cnc) e, an ultra-short-period super-Earth, observed with the Extreme Precision Spectrograph. Using the classical Rossiter–McLaughlin method, we measure 55 Cnc e’s sky-projected stellar spin–orbit alignment (that is, the projected angle between the The star 55 Cancri (Cnc) A hosts five known exoplanets with minimum mass estimates ranging from approximately 8M⊕ to 3MJup and periods less than one day to nearly 20 years1–4. Of particular interest has been 55 Cnc e, one of the most massive known ultra-short-period planets (USPs) and the only planet around 55 Cnc found to transit5,6. It has an star’s spin axis and the planet’s orbit normal—will shed light on the formation and evolution of USPs, especially in the case of compact, multiplanet systems. It has been shown that USPs form a statistically distinct popula- tion of planets9 that tend to be misaligned with other planetary orbits in their system10. This suggests that USPs experience a unique migra- tion pathway that brings them close in to their host stars. This inward migration is most likely driven by dissipation due to star–planet tidal interactions that result from either non-zero eccentricities11,12 or plan- etary spin-axis tilts13. orbital period of 0.7365474 +1.3 × 10−6 days, a mass of 7.99 ± 0.33M −1.4 × 10−6 ⊕ and a radius of 1.853 +0.026 R⊕ (refs. 7,8). A precise measure of the −0.027 stellar spin–orbit alignment of 55 Cnc e—the angle between the host planet’s orbital axis and its host star’s spin axis) to be λ = 10 +17∘ with an +14∘ −20∘ unprojected angle of ψ = 23 −12∘. The best-fit Rossiter–McLaughlin model to the Extreme Precision Spectrograph data has a radial velocity semi- amplitude of just 0.41 +0.09 m s−1. The spin–orbit alignment of 55 Cnc e −0.10 favours dynamically gentle migration theories for ultra-short-period planets, namely tidal dissipation through low-eccentricity planet–planet interactions and/or planetary obliquity tides. 
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  3. Abstract

    The cool hypergiant star RW Cephei is currently in a deep photometric minimum that began several years ago. This event bears a strong similarity to the Great Dimming of the red supergiant Betelgeuse that occurred in 2019–2020. We present the first resolved images of RW Cephei that we obtained with the CHARA Array interferometer. The angular diameter and Gaia distance estimates indicate a stellar radius of 900–1760R, which makes RW Cephei one of the largest stars known in the Milky Way. The reconstructed, near-infrared images show a striking asymmetry in the disk illumination with a bright patch offset from the center and a darker zone to the west. The imaging results depend on assumptions made about the extended flux, and we present two cases with and without allowing extended emission. We also present a recent near-infrared spectrum of RW Cep that demonstrates that the fading is much larger at visual wavelengths compared to that at near-infrared wavelengths as expected for extinction by dust. We suggest that the star’s dimming is the result of a recent surface mass ejection event that created a dust cloud that now partially blocks the stellar photosphere.

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  4. Abstract

    To accurately characterize the planets a star may be hosting, stellar parameters must first be well determined.τCeti is a nearby solar analog and often a target for exoplanet searches. Uncertainties in the observed rotational velocities have made constrainingτCeti’s inclination difficult. For planet candidates from radial velocity (RV) observations, this leads to substantial uncertainties in the planetary masses, as only the minimum mass (msini) can be constrained with RV. In this paper, we used new long-baseline optical interferometric data from the CHARA Array with the MIRC-X beam combiner and extreme precision spectroscopic data from the Lowell Discovery Telescope with EXPRES to improve constraints on the stellar parameters ofτCeti. Additional archival data were obtained from a Tennessee State University Automatic Photometric Telescope and the Mount Wilson Observatory HK project. These new and archival data sets led to improved stellar parameter determinations, including a limb-darkened angular diameter of 2.019 ± 0.012 mas and rotation period of 46 ± 4 days. By combining parameters from our data sets, we obtained an estimate for the stellar inclination of 7° ± 7°. This nearly pole-on orientation has implications for the previously reported exoplanets. An analysis of the system dynamics suggests that the planetary architecture described by Feng et al. may not retain long-term stability for low orbital inclinations. Additionally, the inclination ofτCeti reveals a misalignment between the inclinations of the stellar rotation axis and the previously measured debris disk rotation axis (idisk= 35° ± 10°).

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  6. Abstract

    We present an analysis of Sun-as-a-star observations from four different high-resolution, stabilized spectrographs—HARPS, HARPS-N, EXPRES, and NEID. With simultaneous observations of the Sun from four different instruments, we are able to gain insight into the radial velocity precision and accuracy delivered by each of these instruments and isolate instrumental systematics that differ from true astrophysical signals. With solar observations, we can completely characterize the expected Doppler shift contributed by orbiting Solar System bodies and remove them. This results in a data set with measured velocity variations that purely trace flows on the solar surface. Direct comparisons of the radial velocities measured by each instrument show remarkable agreement with residual intraday scatter of only 15–30 cm s−1. This shows that current ultra-stabilized instruments have broken through to a new level of measurement precision that reveals stellar variability with high fidelity and detail. We end by discussing how radial velocities from different instruments can be combined to provide powerful leverage for testing techniques to mitigate stellar signals.

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  7. null (Ed.)
  8. Abstract The distortions of absorption line profiles caused by photospheric brightness variations on the surfaces of cool, main-sequence stars can mimic or overwhelm radial velocity (RV) shifts due to the presence of exoplanets. The latest generation of precision RV spectrographs aims to detect velocity amplitudes ≲ 10 cm s −1 , but requires mitigation of stellar signals. Statistical techniques are being developed to differentiate between Keplerian and activity-related velocity perturbations. Two important challenges, however, are the interpretability of the stellar activity component as RV models become more sophisticated, and ensuring the lowest-amplitude Keplerian signatures are not inadvertently accounted for in flexible models of stellar activity. For the K2V exoplanet host ϵ Eridani, we separately used ground-based photometry to constrain Gaussian processes for modeling RVs and TESS photometry with a light-curve inversion algorithm to reconstruct the stellar surface. From the reconstructions of TESS photometry, we produced an activity model that reduced the rms scatter in RVs obtained with EXPRES from 4.72 to 1.98 m s −1 . We present a pilot study using the CHARA Array and MIRC-X beam combiner to directly image the starspots seen in the TESS photometry. With the limited phase coverage, our spot detections are marginal with current data but a future dedicated observing campaign should allow for imaging, as well as allow the stellar inclination and orientation with respect to the debris disk to be definitively determined. This work shows that stellar surface maps obtained with high-cadence, time-series photometric and interferometric data can provide the constraints needed to accurately reduce RV scatter. 
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  9. Abstract

    Study Analysis Group 21 (SAG21) of NASA’s Exoplanet Exploration Program Analysis Group was organized to study the effect of stellar contamination on space-based transmission spectroscopy, a method for studying exoplanetary atmospheres by measuring the wavelength-dependent radius of a planet as it transits its star. Transmission spectroscopy relies on a precise understanding of the spectrum of the star being occulted. However, stars are not homogeneous, constant light sources but have temporally evolving photospheres and chromospheres with inhomogeneities like spots, faculae, plages, granules, and flares. This SAG brought together an interdisciplinary team of more than 100 scientists, with observers and theorists from the heliophysics, stellar astrophysics, planetary science, and exoplanetary atmosphere research communities, to study the current research needs that can be addressed in this context to make the most of transit studies from current NASA facilities like Hubble Space Telescope and JWST. The analysis produced 14 findings, which fall into three science themes encompassing (i) how the Sun is used as our best laboratory to calibrate our understanding of stellar heterogeneities (‘The Sun as the Stellar Benchmark’), (ii) how stars other than the Sun extend our knowledge of heterogeneities (‘Surface Heterogeneities of Other Stars’), and (iii) how to incorporate information gathered for the Sun and other stars into transit studies (‘Mapping Stellar Knowledge to Transit Studies’). In this invited review, we largely reproduce the final report of SAG21 as a contribution to the peer-reviewed literature.

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