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Direct Imaging Confirmation and Characterization of a Dust-enshrouded Candidate Exoplanet Orbiting Fomalhaut

Author(s): Currie, Thayne; Debes, John; Rodigas, Timothy J; Burrows, Adam S.; Itoh, Yoichi; et al

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Abstract: We present Subaru/IRCS J-band data for Fomalhaut and a (re)reduction of archival 2004–2006 HST/ACS data first presented by Kalas et al. We confirm the existence of a candidate exoplanet, Fomalhaut b, in both the 2004 and 2006 F606W data sets at a high signal-to-noise ratio. Additionally, we confirm the detection at F814W and present a new detection in F435W. Fomalhaut b’s space motion may be consistent with it being in an apsidally aligned, non-debris ring-crossing orbit, although new astrometry is required for firmer conclusions. We cannot confirm that Fomalhaut b exhibits 0.7–0.8 mag variability cited as evidence for planet accretion or a semi-transient dust cloud. The new, combined optical spectral energy distribution and IR upper limits confirm that emission identifying Fomalhaut b originates from starlight scattered by small dust, but this dust is most likely associated with a massive body. The Subaru and IRAC/4.5 μm upper limits imply M < 2 MJ , still consistent with the range of Fomalhaut b masses needed to sculpt the disk. Fomalhaut b is very plausibly “a planet identified from direct imaging” even if current images of it do not, strictly speaking, show thermal emission from a directly imaged planet.
Publication Date: 1-Dec-2012
Electronic Publication Date: 9-Nov-2012
Citation: Currie, Thayne, Debes, John, Rodigas, Timothy J, Burrows, Adam, Itoh, Yoichi, Fukagawa, Misato, Kenyon, Scott J, Kuchner, Marc, Matsumura, Soko. (2012). Direct Imaging Confirmation and Characterization of a Dust-enshrouded Candidate Exoplanet Orbiting Fomalhaut. apj, 760 (L32 - L32. doi:10.1088/2041-8205/760/2/L32
DOI: doi:10.1088/2041-8205/760/2/L32
Type of Material: Journal Article
Journal/Proceeding Title: Astrophysical Journal Letters
Version: Final published version. This is an open access article.

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