Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Do Wide Orbit Gas Giants Produce Scattered Exoplanets?


Bryan et al


We have conducted an angular differential imaging survey with NIRC2 at Keck in search of close-in substellar companions to a sample of seven systems with confirmed planetary-mass companions (PMCs) on wide orbits (>50 AU). These wide-separation PMCs pose significant challenges to all three possible formation mechanisms: core accretion plus scattering, disk instability, and turbulent fragmentation. We explore the possibility that these companions formed closer in and were scattered out to their present-day locations by searching for other massive bodies at smaller separations. The typical sensitivity for this survey is \Delta K ~ 12.5 at 1". We identify eight candidate companions, whose masses would reach as low as one Jupiter mass if gravitationally bound. From our multi-epoch astrometry we determine that seven of these are conclusively background objects, while the eighth near DH Tau is ambiguous and requires additional monitoring. We rule out the presence of >7 MJup bodies in these systems down to 15 - 50 AU that could be responsible for scattering. This result combined with the totality of evidence suggests that dynamical scattering is unlikely to have produced this population of PMCs. We detect orbital motion from the companions ROXs 42B b and ROXs 12 b, and from this determine 95% upper limits on the companions' eccentricities of 0.58 and 0.83 respectively. Finally, we find that the 95% upper limit on the occurrence rate of additional planets with masses between 5 - 15 MJup outside of 40 AU in systems with PMCs is 54%.

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