Line-depth-ratio temperatures for the close binary nu Octantis: new evidence supporting the conjectured retrograde planet
Ramm et al
We explore the possibly that either star-spots or pulsations are the cause of a periodic radial-velocity signal (P~400 days) from the K-giant binary nu Octantis (P~1050 days, e~0.25), alternatively conjectured to have a retrograde planet. Our study is based on temperatures derived from 22 line-depth ratios (LDRs) for nu Oct and twenty calibration stars. Empirical evidence and stability modelling provide unexpected support for the planet since other standard explanations (star-spots, pulsations and additional stellar masses) each have credibility problems. However, the proposed system presents formidable challenges to planet-formation and stability theories: it has by far the smallest stellar separation of any claimed planet-harbouring binary (a_bin~2.6 au) and an equally unbelievable separation ratio (a_pl/a_bin~0.5), hence the necessity that the circumstellar orbit be retrograde.
The LDR analysis of 215 nu Oct spectra acquired between 2001--2007, from which the RV perturbation was first revealed, have no significant periodicity at any frequency. The LDRs recover the original 21 stellar temperatures with an average accuracy of 45+/-25 K. The 215 nu Oct temperatures have a standard deviation of only 4.2 K. Assuming the host primary is not pulsating, the temperatures converted to magnitude differences strikingly mimic the very stable photometric Hipparcos observations 15 years previously, implying the long-term stability of the star and demonstrating a novel use of LDRs as a photometric gauge. Our results provide substantial new evidence that conventional star-spots and pulsations are unlikely causes of the RV perturbation. The controversial system deserves continued attention, including with higher resolving-power spectra for bisector and LDR analyses.