Observing the planet formation time-scale by ground-based direct imaging of planetary companions to young nearby stars: Gemini/Hokupa'a image of TWA-5

Research paper by Ralph Neuhaeuser, Dan Potter, Wolfgang Brandner

Indexed on: 18 Jun '01Published on: 18 Jun '01Published in: Astrophysics


Many extra-solar planets and a few planetary systems have been found indirectly by small periodic radial velocity variations around old nearby stars. The orbital characteristics of most of them are different from the planets in our solar system. Hence, planet formation theories have to be revised. Therefore, observational constraints regarding young planets would be very valuable. We have started a ground-based direct imaging search for giant planets in orbit around young nearby stars. Here, we will motivate the sample selection and will present our direct imaging observation of the very low-mass (15 to 40 Jupiter masses) brown dwarf companion TWA-5 B in orbit around the nearby young star TWA-5 A, recently obtained with the 36-element curvature-sensing AO instrument Hokupa'a of the University of Hawai'i at the 8.3m Gemini-North telescope on Mauna Kea. We could achieve a FWHM of 64 mas and 25 % Strehl. We find significance evidence for orbital motion of B around A.