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Published July 2007 | Published
Journal Article Open

SIM PlanetQuest Key Project Precursor Observations to Detect Gas Giant Planets around Young Stars


We present a review of precursor observing programs for the SIM PlanetQuest Key Project devoted to detecting Jupiter‐mass planets around young stars. In order to ensure that the stars in the sample are free of various sources of astrometric noise that might impede the detection of planets, we have initiated programs to collect photometry, high‐contrast images, interferometric data, and radial velocities for stars in both the northern and southern hemispheres. We have completed a high‐contrast imaging survey of target stars in Taurus and the Pleiades and found no definitive common proper motion companions within 1" (140 AU) of the SIM targets. Our radial velocity surveys have shown that many of the target stars in Sco‐Cen are fast rotators, and a few stars in Taurus and the Pleiades may have substellar companions. Interferometric data of a few stars in Taurus show no signs of stellar or substellar companions with separations of 5–50 mas. The photometric survey suggests that approximately half of the stars initially selected for this program are variable to a degree (1 σ > 0.1 mag) that would degrade the astrometric accuracy achievable for that star. While the precursor programs are still a work in progress, we provide a comprehensive list of all targets and rank them according to their viability as a result of the observations taken to date. The observable that removes by far the most targets from the SIM young stellar object (YSO) program is photometric variability.

Additional Information

© 2007 Astronomical Society of the Pacific. Received 2007 April 23; accepted 2007 June 11; published 2007 July 12. We acknowledge many useful and formative discussions with other members of the SIM-YSO Science Team, including A. Boden, L. Hartmann, J. Lunine, J. Stauffer, and T. Velusamy. L. P. and M. H. thank our colleagues C. Johns-Krull, P. Hartigan, and D. Jaffe for their collaboration on the McDonald Observatory project. Based on observations obtained at the Hale Telescope, Palomar Observatory, as part of a continuing collaboration between the California Institute of Technology, the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and Cornell University. The research described in this publication was carried out at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. This publication makes use of data products from the Two Micron All Sky Survey, which is a joint project of the University of Massachusetts and the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center, California Institute of Technology, funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the National Science Foundation.

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August 19, 2023
October 19, 2023