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The ESPRI project: astrometric exoplanet search with PRIMA I. Instrument description and performance of first light observations  [PDF]
J. Sahlmann,T. Henning,D. Queloz,A. Quirrenbach,N. M. Elias II,R. Launhardt,F. Pepe,S. Reffert,D. Segransan,J. Setiawan,R. Abuter,L. Andolfato,P. Bizenberger,H. Baumeister,B. Chazelas,F. Delplancke,F. Derie,N. Di Lieto,T. P. Duc,M. Fleury,U. Graser,A. Kaminski,R. Koehler,S. Leveque,C. Maire,D. Megevand,A. Merand,Y. Michellod,J. -M. Moresmau,M. Mohler,A. Mueller,P. Muellhaupt,V. Naranjo,L. Sache,Y. Salvade,C. Schmid,N. Schuhler,T. Schulze-Hartung,D. Sosnowska,B. Tubbs,G. T. van Belle,K. Wagner,L. Weber,L. Zago,N. Zimmerman
Physics , 2012, DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/201220569
Abstract: The ESPRI project relies on the astrometric capabilities offered by the PRIMA facility of the Very Large Telescope Interferometer for the discovery and study of planetary systems. Our survey consists of obtaining high-precision astrometry for a large sample of stars over several years and to detect their barycentric motions due to orbiting planets. We present the operation principle, the instrument's implementation, and the results of a first series of test observations. A comprehensive overview of the instrument infrastructure is given and the observation strategy for dual-field relative astrometry is presented. The differential delay lines, a key component of the PRIMA facility which was delivered by the ESPRI consortium, are described and their performance within the facility is discussed. Observations of bright visual binaries are used to test the observation procedures and to establish the instrument's astrometric precision and accuracy. The data reduction strategy for astrometry and the necessary corrections to the raw data are presented. Adaptive optics observations with NACO are used as an independent verification of PRIMA astrometric observations. The PRIMA facility was used to carry out tests of astrometric observations. The astrometric performance in terms of precision is limited by the atmospheric turbulence at a level close to the theoretical expectations and a precision of 30 micro-arcseconds was achieved. In contrast, the astrometric accuracy is insufficient for the goals of the ESPRI project and is currently limited by systematic errors that originate in the part of the interferometer beamtrain which is not monitored by the internal metrology system. Our observations led to the definition of corrective actions required to make the facility ready for carrying out the ESPRI search for extrasolar planets.
Improving the astrometric performance of VLTI-PRIMA  [PDF]
J. Woillez,R. Abuter,L. Andolfato,J. P. Berger,H. Bonnet,F. Delplancke,F. Derie,N. Di Lieto,S. Guniat,A. Mérand,T. Phan Duc,C. Schmid,N. Schuhler,T. Henning,R. Launhardt,F. Pepe,D. Queloz,A. Quirrenbach,S. Reffert,S. Sahlmann,D. Segransan
Physics , 2014, DOI: 10.1117/12.2054723
Abstract: In the summer of 2011, the first on-sky astrometric commissioning of PRIMA-Astrometry delivered a performance of 3 m'' for a 10 '' separation on bright objects, orders of magnitude away from its exoplanet requirement of 50 {\mu}'' ~ 20 {\mu}'' on objects as faint as 11 mag ~ 13 mag in K band. This contribution focuses on upgrades and characterizations carried out since then. The astrometric metrology was extended from the Coud\'e focus of the Auxillary Telescopes to their secondary mirror, in order to reduce the baseline instabilities and improve the astrometric performance. While carrying out this extension, it was realized that the polarization retardance of the star separator derotator had a major impact on both the astrometric metrology and the fringe sensors. A local compensation of this retardance and the operation on a symmetric baseline allowed a new astrometric commissioning. In October 2013, an improved astrometric performance of 160 {\mu}'' was demonstrated, still short of the requirements. Instabilities in the astrometric baseline still appear to be the dominating factor. In preparation to a review held in January 2014, a plan was developed to further improve the astrometric and faint target performance of PRIMA Astrometry. On the astrometric aspect, it involved the extension of the internal longitudinal metrology to primary space, the design and implementation of an external baseline metrology, and the development of an astrometric internal fringes mode. On the faint target aspect, investigations of the performance of the fringe sensor units and the development of an AO system (NAOMI) were in the plan. Following this review, ESO decided to take a proposal to the April 2014 STC that PRIMA be cancelled, and that ESO resources be concentrated on ensuring that Gravity and Matisse are a success. This proposal was recommended by the STC in May 2014, and endorsed by ESO.
Narrow-angle astrometry with PRIMA  [PDF]
J. Sahlmann,D. Ségransan,A. Mérand,N. Zimmerman,R. Abuter,B. Chazelas,F. Delplancke,T. Henning,A. Kaminski,R. K?hler,R. Launhardt,M. Mohler,F. Pepe,D. Queloz,A. Quirrenbach,S. Reffert,C. Schmid,N. Schuhler,T. Schulze-Hartung
Physics , 2012, DOI: 10.1117/12.926214
Abstract: The Extrasolar Planet Search with PRIMA project (ESPRI) aims at characterising and detecting extrasolar planets by measuring the host star's reflex motion using the narrow-angle astrometry capability of the PRIMA facility at the Very Large Telescope Interferometer. A first functional demonstration of the astrometric mode was achieved in early 2011. This marked the start of the astrometric commissioning phase with the purpose of characterising the instrument's performance, which ultimately has to be sufficient for exoplanet detection. We show results obtained from the observation of bright visual binary stars, which serve as test objects to determine the instrument's astrometric precision, its accuracy, and the plate scale. Finally, we report on the current status of the ESPRI project, in view of starting its scientific programme.
The Carnegie Astrometric Planet Search Program  [PDF]
Alan P. Boss,Alycia J. Weinberger,Guillem Anglada-Escude,Ian B. Thompson,Gregory Burley,Christoph Birk,Steven H. Pravdo,Stuart B. Shaklan,George D. Gatewood,Steven R. Majewski,Richard J. Patterson
Physics , 2009, DOI: 10.1086/647960
Abstract: We are undertaking an astrometric search for gas giant planets and brown dwarfs orbiting nearby low mass dwarf stars with the 2.5-m du Pont telescope at the Las Campanas Observatory in Chile. We have built two specialized astrometric cameras, the Carnegie Astrometric Planet Search Cameras (CAPSCam-S and CAPSCam-N), using two Teledyne Hawaii-2RG HyViSI arrays, with the cameras' design having been optimized for high accuracy astrometry of M dwarf stars. We describe two independent CAPSCam data reduction approaches and present a detailed analysis of the observations to date of one of our target stars, NLTT 48256. Observations of NLTT 48256 taken since July 2007 with CAPSCam-S imply that astrometric accuracies of around 0.3 milliarcsec per hour are achievable, sufficient to detect a Jupiter-mass companion orbiting 1 AU from a late M dwarf 10 pc away with a signal-to-noise ratio of about 4. We plan to follow about 100 nearby (primarily within about 10 pc) low mass stars, principally late M, L, and T dwarfs, for 10 years or more, in order to detect very low mass companions with orbital periods long enough to permit the existence of habitable, Earth-like planets on shorter-period orbits. These stars are generally too faint and red to be included in ground-based Doppler planet surveys, which are often optimized for FGK dwarfs. The smaller masses of late M dwarfs also yield correspondingly larger astrometric signals for a given mass planet. Our search will help to determine whether gas giant planets form primarily by core accretion or by disk instability around late M dwarf stars.
Perturbative approach to the astrometric microlensing due to an extrasolar planet  [PDF]
Hideki Asada
Physics , 2002, DOI: 10.1086/340838
Abstract: We have developed a perturbative approach to microlensing due to an extrasolar planetary lens. In particular, we have found analytic formulae for triple images. We have used the formulae to investigate the astrometric microlensing due to the extrasolar planetary lens, in expectation of dramatic improvements in the precision of the future astrometric measurements. For a weak lensing case, we have shown how the maximum angular size and the typical time scale of the anomalous shift of the lightcentroid are dependent on the mass ratio and angular separation between the star and the planet.
Astrometric search for a planet around VB 10  [PDF]
P. F. Lazorenko,J. Sahlmann,D. Segransan,P. Figueira,C. Lovis,E. Martin,M. Mayor,F. Pepe,D. Queloz,F. Rodler,N. Santos,S. Udry
Physics , 2010, DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/201015386
Abstract: We observed VB 10 in August and September 2009 using the FORS2 camera of the VLT with the aim of measuring its astrometric motion and of probing the presence of the announced planet VB 10b. We used the published STEPS astrometric positions of VB 10 over a time-span of 9 years, which allowed us to compare the expected motion of VB 10 due to parallax and proper motion with the observed motion and to compute precise deviations. The achieved single-epoch precisions of our observations are about 0.1 mas and the data showed no significant residual trend, while the presence of the planet should have induced an apparent proper motion larger than 10 mas/yr. Subtraction of the predicted orbital motion from the observed data produces a large trend in position residuals of VB 10. We estimated the probability that this trend is caused by random noise. Taking all the uncertainties into account and using Monte-Carlo resampling of the data, we are able to reject the existence of VB 10b with the announced mass of 6.4 M_J with the false alarm probability of only 0.0005. A 3.2 M_J planet is also rejected with a false alarm probability of 0.023.
Properties of Planet-induced Deviations in the Astrometric Microlensing Centroid Shift Trajectory  [PDF]
Cheongho Han,Chunguk Lee
Physics , 2001, DOI: 10.1046/j.1365-8711.2002.04976.x
Abstract: In this paper, we investigate the properties of the planet-induced deviations in the trajectory of the microlensed source star centroid motion (astrometric curve) and the correlations between the astrometric and photometric deviations. For this, we construct vector field maps of excess centroid shifts. Fromthe investigation of the maps, we find that the astrometric deviation is closely correlated with the photometric one. The astrometric deviation increases as the photometric deviation increases and $\Delta\deltavec$ is directed towards the planet when the light curve has positive deviation and vice versa. We also present excess centroid shift maps for lens systems with various values of the planetary separation, planet/primary mass ratio, and source size to show the changes in the pattern of excess centroid shifts with these parameters.
Astrometric planet search around southern ultracool dwarfs II: Astrometric reduction methods and a deep astrometric catalogue  [PDF]
P. F. Lazorenko,J. Sahlmann,D. Segransan,E. L. Martin,M. Mayor,D. Queloz,S. Udry
Physics , 2014, DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/201323271
Abstract: We describe the astrometric reduction of images obtained with the FORS2/VLT camera in the framework of an astrometric planet search around 20 M/L-transition dwarfs. We present the correction of systematic errors, the achieved astrometric performance, and a new astrometric catalogue containing the faint reference stars in 20 fields located close to the Galactic plane. We detected three types of systematic errors in the FORS2 astrometry: the relative motion of the camera's two CCD chips, errors that are correlated in space, and an error contribution of yet unexplained origin. The relative CCD motion has probably a thermal origin and usually is 0.001-0.010 px (~0.1-1 mas), but sometimes amounts to 0.02-0.05 px (3-6 mas). This instability and space-correlated errors are detected and mitigated using reference stars. The third component of unknown origin has an amplitude of 0.03-0.14 mas and is independent of the observing conditions. We find that a consecutive sequence of 32 images of a well-exposed star over 40 min at 0.6" seeing results in a median r.m.s. of the epoch residuals of 0.126 mas. Overall, the epoch residuals are distributed according to a normal law with a chi2~1. We compiled a catalogue of 12000 stars with I-band magnitudes of 16-22 located in 20 fields, each covering ~2x2'. It contains I-band magnitudes, ICRF positions with 40-70 mas precision, and relative proper motions and absolute trigonometric parallaxes with a precision of 0.1 mas/yr and 0.1 mas at the bright end, respectively.
Astrometric Calibration of the Gemini NICI Planet-Finding Campaign  [PDF]
Thomas L. Hayward,Beth A. Biller,Michael C. Liu,Eric L. Nielsen,Zahed Wahhaj,Mark Chun,Christ Ftaclas,Markus Hartung,Douglas W. Toomey
Physics , 2014, DOI: 10.1086/679508
Abstract: We describe the astrometric calibration of the Gemini NICI Planet-Finding Campaign. The Campaign requires a relative astrometric accuracy of $\approx$ 20 mas across multi-year timescales in order to distinguish true companions from background stars by verifying common proper motion and parallax with their parent stars. The calibration consists of a correction for instrumental optical image distortion, plus on-sky imaging of astrometric fields to determine the pixel scale and image orientation. We achieve an accuracy of $\lesssim 7$ mas between the center and edge of the 18$''$ NICI field, meeting the 20 mas requirement. Most of the Campaign data in the Gemini Science Archive are accurate to this level but we identify a number of anomalies and present methods to correct the errors.
First results from fringe tracking with the PRIMA fringe sensor unit  [PDF]
J. Sahlmann,R. Abuter,S. Menardi,C. Schmid,N. Di Lieto,F. Delplancke,R. Frahm,N. Gomes,P. Haguenauer,S. Leveque,S. Morel,A. Mueller,T. Phan Duc,N. Schuhler,G. van Belle
Physics , 2010, DOI: 10.1117/12.856896
Abstract: The fringe sensor unit (FSU) is the central element of the phase referenced imaging and micro-arcsecond astrometry (PRIMA) dual-feed facility for the Very Large Telescope interferometer (VLTI). It has been installed at the Paranal observatory in August 2008 and is undergoing commissioning and preparation for science operation. Commissioning observations began shortly after installation and first results include the demonstration of spatially encoded fringe sensing and the increase in VLTI limiting magnitude for fringe tracking. However, difficulties have been encountered because the FSU does not incorporate real-time photometric correction and its fringe encoding depends on polarisation. These factors affect the control signals, especially their linearity, and can disturb the tracking control loop. To account for this, additional calibration and characterisation efforts are required. We outline the instrument concept and give an overview of the commissioning results obtained so far. We describe the effects of photometric variations and beam-train polarisation on the instrument operation and propose possible solutions. Finally, we update on the current status in view of the start of astrometric science operation with PRIMA.
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