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The β Pictoris b Hill sphere transit campaign. I. Photometric limits to dust and rings

Kenworthy, M. A. and Mellon, S. N. and Bailey, J. I. and Stuik, R. and Dorval, P. and Talens, G. J. J. and Crawford, S. R. and Mamajek, E. E. and Laginja, I. and Ireland, M. and Lomberg, B. and Kuhn, R. B. and Snellen, I. and Zwintz, K. and Kuschnig, R. and Kennedy, G. M. and Abe, L. and Agabi, A. and Mekarnia, D. and Guillot, T. and Schmider, F. and Stee, P. and de Pra, Y. and Buttu, M. and Crouzet, N. and Kalas, P. and Wang, J. J. and Stevenson, K. and de Mooij, E. and Lagrange, A.-M. and Lacour, S. and Lecavelier des Etangs, A. and Nowak, M. and Strøm, P. A. and Hui, Z. and Wang, L. (2021) The β Pictoris b Hill sphere transit campaign. I. Photometric limits to dust and rings. Astronomy and Astrophysics, 648 . Art. No. A15. ISSN 0004-6361. doi:10.1051/0004-6361/202040060.

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Aims. Photometric monitoring of β Pic in 1981 showed anomalous fluctuations of up to 4% over several days, consistent with foreground material transiting the stellar disk. The subsequent discovery of the gas giant planet β Pic b and the predicted transit of its Hill sphere to within a 0.1 au projected separation of the planet provided an opportunity to search for the transit of a circumplanetary disk (CPD) in this 21 ± 4 Myr-old planetary system. We aim to detect, or put an upper limit on, the density and nature of the material in the circumplanetary environment of the planet via the continuous photometric monitoring of the Hill sphere transit that occurred in 2017 and 2018. Methods. Continuous broadband photometric monitoring of β Pic requires ground-based observatories at multiple longitudes to provide redundancy and to provide triggers for rapid spectroscopic follow-up. These include the dedicated β Pic monitoring bRing observatories in Sutherland and Siding Springs, the ASTEP400 telescope at Concordia, and the space observatories BRITE and the Hubble Space Telescope (HST). We search the combined light curves for evidence of short-period transient events caused by rings as well as for longer-term photometric variability due to diffuse circumplanetary material. Results. We find no photometric event that matches with the event seen in November 1981, and there is no systematic photometric dimming of the star as a function of the Hill sphere radius. Conclusions. We conclude that the 1981 event was not caused by the transit of a CPD around β Pic b. The upper limit on the long-term variability of β Pic places an upper limit of 1.8 × 10²² g of dust within the Hill sphere (comparable to the ~100 km radius asteroid 16 Psyche). Circumplanetary material is either condensed into a disk that does not transit β Pic, condensed into a disk with moons that has an obliquity that does not intersect with the path of β Pic behind the Hill sphere, or is below our detection threshold. This is the first time that a dedicated international campaign has mapped the Hill sphere transit of an extrasolar gas giant planet at 10 au.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription Paper
Kenworthy, M. A.0000-0002-7064-8270
Bailey, J. I.0000-0002-4272-263X
Stuik, R.0000-0001-7797-3749
Mamajek, E. E.0000-0003-2008-1488
Laginja, I.0000-0003-1783-5023
Ireland, M.0000-0002-6194-043X
Snellen, I.0000-0003-1624-3667
Zwintz, K.0000-0001-9229-8315
Kennedy, G. M.0000-0001-6831-7547
Guillot, T.0000-0002-7188-8428
Stee, P.0000-0001-8220-0636
de Pra, Y.0000-0002-0876-4828
Kalas, P.0000-0002-6221-5360
Wang, J. J.0000-0003-0774-6502
Stevenson, K.0000-0002-7352-7941
de Mooij, E.0000-0001-6391-9266
Lagrange, A.-M.0000-0002-2189-2365
Lacour, S.0000-0002-6948-0263
Lecavelier des Etangs, A.0000-0002-5637-5253
Nowak, M.0000-0001-6923-1315
Strøm, P. A.0000-0002-7823-1090
Additional Information:© ESO 2021. Article published by EDP Sciences. Received 4 December 2020; Accepted 8 February 2021; Published online 07 April 2021. We thank the referee for taking the time to review our paper, especially after the difficulties and disruptions of the past year. M.A.K. acknowledges funding from NOVA and Leiden Observatory for the bRing observatory at SAAO, and to the NSF/NWO for travel funding (NWO grant 629.003.025). J.W. is supported by the 51 Pegasi b Fellowship. GMK is supported by the Royal Society as a Royal Society University Research Fellow. M.A.K. thanks the staff and observatory support crews at the South African Astronomical Observatory in Sutherland for all the work they put in to make bRing a successful observing station, and which allowed us to obtain first light within the first week of installation. Part of this research was carried out at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (80NM0018D0004). Construction of the bRing observatory sited at Siding Springs, Australia was made possible with a University of Rochester University Research Award, help from Mike Culver and Rich Sarkis (UR), and generous donations of time, services, and materials from Joe and Debbie Bonvissuto of Freight Expediters, Michael Akkaoui and his team at Tanury Industries, Robert Harris and Michael Fay at BCI, Koch Division, Mark Paup, Dave Mellon, and Ray Miller and the Zippo Tool Room. The results reported herein benefitted from collaborations and/or information exchange within NASA’s Nexus for Exoplanet System Science (NExSS) research coordination network sponsored by NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. This research is based on observations made with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope obtained from the Space Telescope Science Institute, which is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc., under NASA contract NAS 5–26555. These observations are associated with programs 14621 and 15119. ASTEP benefited from the support of the French and Italian polar agencies IPEV and PNRA in the framework of the Concordia station program and of Idex UCAJEDI (ANR-15-IDEX-01). This research made use of Astropy6, a community-developed core Python package for Astronomy (Astropy Collaboration 2013, 2018), Python (Van Rossum & Drake Jr 1995; Oliphant 2007), Matplotlib (Hunter 2007; Caswell et al. 2020), numpy (Oliphant 2006; Van Der Walt et al. 2011) and SciPy (Virtanen et al. 2020b,a).
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Nederlandse Onderzoekschool Voor Astronomie (NOVA)UNSPECIFIED
Leiden ObservatoryUNSPECIFIED
Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (NWO)629.003.025
Heising-Simons Foundation51 Pegasi b Fellowship
University of RochesterUNSPECIFIED
NASANAS 5-26555
Agence Nationale pour la Recherche (ANR)ANR-15-IDEX-01
Subject Keywords:planets and satellites: rings – planets and satellites: formation – stars: individual: β Pictoris
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20210409-095908973
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Official Citation:The β Pictoris b Hill sphere transit campaign - I. Photometric limits to dust and rings. M. A. Kenworthy, S. N. Mellon, J. I. Bailey, R. Stuik, P. Dorval, G. J. J. Talens, S. R. Crawford, E. E. Mamajek, I. Laginja, M. Ireland, B. Lomberg, R. B. Kuhn, I. Snellen, K. Zwintz, R. Kuschnig, G. M. Kennedy, L. Abe, A. Agabi, D. Mekarnia, T. Guillot, F. Schmider, P. Stee, Y. de Pra, M. Buttu, N. Crouzet, P. Kalas, J. J. Wang, K. Stevenson, E. de Mooij, A.-M. Lagrange, S. Lacour, A. Lecavelier des Etangs, M. Nowak, P. A. Strøm, Z. Hui and L. Wang. A&A, 648 (2021) A15; DOI:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:108672
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:13 Apr 2021 20:16
Last Modified:23 Apr 2021 18:52

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