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  1. ABSTRACT

    The search for extraterrestrial intelligence is currently being pursued using multiple techniques and in different wavelength bands. Dyson spheres, megastructures that could be constructed by advanced civilizations to harness the radiation energy of their host stars, represent a potential technosignature, that in principle may be hiding in public data already collected as part of large astronomical surveys. In this study, we present a comprehensive search for partial Dyson spheres by analysing optical and infrared observations from Gaia, 2MASS, and WISE. We develop a pipeline that employs multiple filters to identify potential candidates and reject interlopers in a sample of five million objects, which incorporates a convolutional neural network to help identify confusion in WISE data. Finally, the pipeline identifies seven candidates deserving of further analysis. All of these objects are M-dwarfs, for which astrophysical phenomena cannot easily account for the observed infrared excess emission.

     
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  2. Theories of planet formation predict that low-mass stars should rarely host exoplanets with masses exceeding that of Neptune. We used radial velocity observations to detect a Neptune-mass exoplanet orbiting LHS 3154, a star that is nine times less massive than the Sun. The exoplanet’s orbital period is 3.7 days, and its minimum mass is 13.2 Earth masses. We used simulations to show that the high planet-to-star mass ratio (>3.5 × 10−4) is not an expected outcome of either the core accretion or gravitational instability theories of planet formation. In the core-accretion simulations, we show that close-in Neptune-mass planets are only formed if the dust mass of the protoplanetary disk is an order of magnitude greater than typically observed around very low-mass stars.

     
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2024
  3. Abstract TOI-1899 b is a rare exoplanet, a temperate warm Jupiter orbiting an M dwarf, first discovered by Cañas et al. (2020) from a TESS single-transit event. Using new radial velocities (RVs) from the precision RV spectrographs HPF and NEID, along with additional TESS photometry and ground-based transit follow-up, we are able to derive a much more precise orbital period of P = 29.090312 − 0.000035 + 0.000036 days, along with a radius of R p = 0.99 ± 0.03 R J . We have also improved the constraints on planet mass, M p = 0.67 ± 0.04 M J , and eccentricity, which is consistent with a circular orbit at 2 σ ( e = 0.044 − 0.027 + 0.029 ). TOI-1899 b occupies a unique region of parameter space as the coolest known ( T eq ≈ 380 K) Jovian-sized transiting planet around an M dwarf; we show that it has great potential to provide clues regarding the formation and migration mechanisms of these rare gas giants through transmission spectroscopy with JWST, as well as studies of tidal evolution. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 3, 2024
  4. Abstract

    Using both ground-based transit photometry and high-precision radial velocity spectroscopy, we confirm the planetary nature of TOI-3785 b. This transiting Neptune orbits an M2-Dwarf star with a period of ∼4.67 days, a planetary radius of 5.14 ± 0.16R, a mass of14.953.92+4.10M, and a density ofρ=0.610.17+0.18g cm−3. TOI-3785 b belongs to a rare population of Neptunes (4R<Rp< 7R) orbiting cooler, smaller M-dwarf host stars, of which only ∼10 have been confirmed. By increasing the number of confirmed planets, TOI-3785 b offers an opportunity to compare similar planets across varying planetary and stellar parameter spaces. Moreover, with a high-transmission spectroscopy metric of ∼150 combined with a relatively cool equilibrium temperature ofTeq= 582 ± 16 K and an inactive host star, TOI-3785 b is one of the more promising low-density M-dwarf Neptune targets for atmospheric follow up. Future investigation into atmospheric mass-loss rates of TOI-3785 b may yield new insights into the atmospheric evolution of these low-mass gas planets around M dwarfs.

     
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  5. Abstract We use a high-precision radial velocity survey of FGKM stars to study the conditional occurrence of two classes of planets: close-in small planets (0.023–1 au, 2–30 M ⊕ ) and distant giant planets (0.23–10 au, 30–6000 M ⊕ ). We find that 41 − 13 + 15 % of systems with a close-in, small planet also host an outer giant, compared to 17.6 − 1.9 + 2.4 % for stars irrespective of small planet presence. This implies that small planet hosts may be enhanced in outer giant occurrences compared to all stars with 1.7 σ significance. Conversely, we estimate that 42 − 13 + 17 % of cold giant hosts also host an inner small planet, compared to 27.6 − 4.8 + 5.8 % of stars irrespective of cold giant presence. We also find that more massive and close-in giant planets are not associated with small inner planets. Specifically, our sample indicates that small planets are less likely to have outer giant companions more massive than approximately 120 M ⊕ and within 0.3–3 au, than to have less massive or more distant giant companions, with ∼2.2 σ confidence. This implies that massive gas giants within 0.3–3 au may suppress inner small planet formation. Additionally, we compare the host-star metallicity distributions for systems with only small planets and those with both small planets and cold giants. In agreement with previous studies, we find that stars in our survey that only host small planets have a metallicity distribution that is consistent with the broader solar-metallicity-median sample, while stars that host both small planets and gas giants are distinctly metal rich with ∼2.3 σ confidence. 
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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. Abstract

    TOI-2076 b is a sub-Neptune-sized planet (R= 2.39 ± 0.10R) that transits a young (204 ± 50 MYr) bright (V= 9.2) K-dwarf hosting a system of three transiting planets. Using spectroscopic observations obtained with the NEID spectrograph on the WIYN 3.5 m Telescope, we model the Rossiter–McLaughlin effect of TOI-2076 b, and derive a sky-projected obliquity ofλ=315+16°. Using the size of the star (R= 0.775 ± 0.015R), and the stellar rotation period (Prot= 7.27 ± 0.23 days), we estimate an obliquity ofψ=189+10°(ψ< 34° at 95% confidence), demonstrating that TOI-2076 b is in a well-aligned orbit. Simultaneous diffuser-assisted photometry from the 3.5 m telescope at Apache Point Observatory rules out flares during the transit. TOI-2076 b joins a small but growing sample of young planets in compact multi-planet systems with well-aligned orbits, and is the fourth planet with an age ≲300 Myr in a multi-transiting system with an obliquity measurement. The low obliquity of TOI-2076 b and the presence of transit timing variations in the system suggest the TOI-2076 system likely formed via convergent disk migration in an initially well-aligned disk.

     
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  8. Abstract We present the discovery of a new Jovian-sized planet, TOI-3757 b, the lowest-density transiting planet known to orbit an M dwarf (M0V). This planet was discovered around a solar-metallicity M dwarf, using Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite photometry and confirmed with precise radial velocities from the Habitable-zone Planet Finder (HPF) and NEID. With a planetary radius of 12.0 − 0.5 + 0.4 R ⊕ and mass of 85.3 − 8.7 + 8.8 M ⊕ , not only does this object add to the small sample of gas giants (∼10) around M dwarfs, but also its low density ( ρ = 0.27 − 0.04 + 0.05 g cm −3 ) provides an opportunity to test theories of planet formation. We present two hypotheses to explain its low density; first, we posit that the low metallicity of its stellar host (∼0.3 dex lower than the median metallicity of M dwarfs hosting gas giants) could have played a role in the delayed formation of a solid core massive enough to initiate runaway accretion. Second, using the eccentricity estimate of 0.14 ± 0.06, we determine it is also plausible for tidal heating to at least partially be responsible for inflating the radius of TOI-3757b b. The low density and large scale height of TOI-3757 b makes it an excellent target for transmission spectroscopy studies of atmospheric escape and composition (transmission spectroscopy measurement of ∼ 190). We use HPF to perform transmission spectroscopy of TOI-3757 b using the helium 10830 Å line. Doing this, we place an upper limit of 6.9% (with 90% confidence) on the maximum depth of the absorption from the metastable transition of He at ∼10830 Å, which can help constraint the atmospheric mass-loss rate in this energy-limited regime. 
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  9. Abstract Barnard’s star is among the most studied stars given its proximity to the Sun. It is often considered the radial velocity (RV) standard for fully convective stars due to its RV stability and equatorial decl. Recently, an M sin i = 3.3 M ⊕ super-Earth planet candidate with a 233 day orbital period was announced by Ribas et al. New observations from the near-infrared Habitable-zone Planet Finder (HPF) Doppler spectrometer do not show this planetary signal. We ran a suite of experiments on both the original data and a combined original + HPF data set. These experiments include model comparisons, periodogram analyses, and sampling sensitivity, all of which show the signal at the proposed period of 233 days is transitory in nature. The power in the signal is largely contained within 211 RVs that were taken within a 1000 day span of observing. Our preferred model of the system is one that features stellar activity without a planet. We propose that the candidate planetary signal is an alias of the 145 day rotation period. This result highlights the challenge of analyzing long-term, quasi-periodic activity signals over multiyear and multi-instrument observing campaigns. 
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  10. Abstract We confirm the planetary nature of two gas giants discovered by the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite to transit M dwarfs. TOI-3714 ( V = 15.24, J = 11.74) is an M2 dwarf hosting a hot Jupiter ( M p = 0.70 ± 0.03 M J and R p = 1.01 ± 0.03 R J ) on an orbital period of 2.154849 ± 0.000001 days with a resolved white dwarf companion. TOI-3629 ( V = 14.63, J = 11.42) is an M1 dwarf hosting a hot Jupiter ( M p = 0.26 ± 0.02 M J and R p =0.74 ± 0.02 R J ) on an orbital period of 3.936551 − 0.000006 + 0.000005 days. We characterize each transiting companion using a combination of ground-based and space-based photometry, speckle imaging, and high-precision velocimetry from the Habitable-zone Planet Finder and the NEID spectrographs. With the discovery of these two systems, there are now nine M dwarfs known to host transiting hot Jupiters. Among this population, TOI-3714 b ( T eq = 750 ± 20 K and TSM = 98 ± 7) and TOI-3629 b ( T eq = 690 ± 20 K and TSM = 80 ± 9) are warm gas giants amenable to additional characterization with transmission spectroscopy to probe atmospheric chemistry and, for TOI-3714, obliquity measurements to probe formation scenarios. 
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