Friday, August 28, 2015

Barnard's Star Cannot Have a Brown Dwarf or Gas Giant Greater Than 15 Jupiter Masses

Constraints on the substellar companions in wide orbits around the Barnard's Star from CanariCam mid-infrared imaging


Gauza et al


We have performed mid-infrared imaging of Barnard's Star, one of the nearest stars to the Sun, using CanariCam on the 10.4 m Gran Telescopio Canarias. We aim to investigate an area within 1-10 arcsec separations, which for the 1.83 pc distance of the star translates to projected orbital separations of 1.8-18 AU (P greater than 12 yr), which have not been explored yet with astrometry or radial velocity programs. It is therefore an opportunity to enter the domain of distances where most giant planets are expected to form. We performed deep imaging in the N-band window (Si-2 filter, 8.7 {\mu}m) reaching a 3{\sigma} detection limit of 0.85+/-0.18 mJy and angular resolution of 0.24 arcsec, close to the diffraction limit of the telescope at this wavelength. A total of 80 min on-source integration time data were collected and combined for the deepest image. We achieved a dynamical range of 8.0+/-0.1 mag in the 8.7 {\mu}m band, at angular separations from ~2 to 10 arcsec and of ~6-8 mag at 1-2 arcsec. No additional sources were found. Our detectability limits provide further constraints to the presence of substellar companions of the Barnard's Star. According to solar metallicity evolutionary models, we can exclude companions of masses larger than 15 MJup (Teff greater than 400 K), ages of a few Gyr, and located in ~3.6-18 AU orbits with a 3{\sigma} confidence level. This minimum mass is approximately 5 MJup smaller than any previous imaging survey that explored the surroundings of Barnard's Star could restrict.

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