Astrometry with long baseline optical interferometry (direct photons) lead to the mass measurement of an exoplanet, β Pictoris c from the motion of its bigger "sister" β Pictoris b!
This is so cool, mind blowing 🤯: Exoplanet science is maturing with disruptive novel instruments like GRAVITY and the great ExoGRAVITY effort and generous collaboration led by Sylvestre Lacour.
Urbain Le Verrier predicted the existence of Neptune using mathematics. Here, we achieved the mass measurement of an exoplanet, β Pictoris c from the motion of its bigger "sister" β Pictoris b!
Optical/NIR interferometry is saved and has now a long future at ESO and beyond, on the ground and in space!
I am so happy to be an insignificant part of this. In 2001 I tested integrated optics components as part of my master's internship between IPAG (then LAOG) and CEA/LETI. Then, there were H-band optimized 3-beam recombiners aimed at the IOTA interferometer in Arizona. The ~same technology is used in GRAVITY to recombine 4 telescope beams by pairs.
The mass of Beta Pictoris c from Beta Pictoris b orbital motion.
S. Lacour, J. J. Wang, L. Rodet, M. Nowak, J. Shangguan, H. Beust, A.-M. Lagrange, R. Abuter, A. Amorim, R. Asensio-Torres, M. Benisty, J.-P. Berger, S. Blunt, A. Boccaletti, A. Bohn, M.-L. Bolzer, M. Bonnefoy, H. Bonnet, G. Bourdarot, W. Brandner, F. Cantalloube, P. Caselli, B. Charnay, G. Chauvin, E. Choquet, V. Christiaens, Y. Clénet, V. Coudé du Foresto, A. Cridland, R. Dembet, J. Dexter, P. T. de Zeeuw, A. Drescher, G. Duvert, A. Eckart, F. Eisenhauer, F. Gao, P. Garcia, R. Garcia Lopez, E. Gendron, R. Genzel, S. Gillessen, J. H. Girard, X. Haubois, G. Heißel, Th. Henning, S. Hinkley, S. Hippler, M. Horrobin, M. Houllé, Z. Hubert, L. Jocou, J. Kammerer, M. Keppler, P. Kervella, L. Kreidberg, V. Lapeyrère, J.-B. Le Bouquin, P. Léna, D. Lutz, A.-L. Maire, et al. (38 additional authors not shown)
We aim to demonstrate that the presence and mass of an Exoplanet can now be effectively derived from the astrometry of another Exoplanet. We combined previous astrometry of ββ Pictoris b with a new set of observations from the GRAVITY interferometer. The orbital motion of ββ Pictoris b is fit using Markov chain Monte Carlo simulations in Jacobi coordinates. The inner planet, ββ Pictoris c, was also reobserved at a separation of 96\,mas, confirming the previous orbital estimations. From the astrometry of planet b only, we can (i) detect the presence of ββ Pictoris c and (ii) constrain its mass to 10.04+4.53−3.10MJup10.04−3.10+4.53MJup. If one adds the astrometry of ββ Pictoris c, the mass is narrowed down to 9.15+1.08−1.06MJup9.15−1.06+1.08MJup. The inclusion of radial velocity measurements does not affect the orbital parameters significantly, but it does slightly decrease the mass estimate to 8.89+0.75−0.75MJup8.89−0.75+0.75MJup. With a semimajor axis of 2.68±0.022.68±0.02\,au, a period of 1221±151221±15 days, and an eccentricity of 0.32±0.020.32±0.02, the orbital parameters of ββ Pictoris c are now constrained as precisely as those of ββ Pictoris b. The orbital configuration is compatible with a high-order mean-motion resonance (7:1). The impact of the resonance on the planets' dynamics would then be negligible with respect to the secular perturbations, which might have played an important role in the eccentricity excitation of the outer planet.
Since about 2 years I am coordinating this community engagement effort with an amazing team. Please check out the dedicated Data Challenge website (which I created and maintain). The Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope (Roman, formally WFIRST) Exoplanet Imaging Data Challenge and Tutorial Suite are for exoplanet scientists who are interested in learning the art and science of high contrast imaging of exoplanetary systems. Roman's Coronagraph Instrument (formally CGI), with a possible Starshade rendezvous, is the only exoplanet imaging instrument planned for flight in the next decade.
The Data Challenge material was an excellent way to become familiar with the intricacies of the first spaceborne high contrast exoplanet imaging mission, as a pathfinder to future flagship missions. The CHALLENGE is now OVER but please, see our Timeline, play with the Data, check our Tutorial, Events and "Final Jamboree" videos with the winners/prizes!
On April 30th, we had organized a 3 ½ hour "Final Jamboree" event, we presented the challenge, its organization, summarized how the data were simulated and showed our in-house analysis for planet c.
We explained which metrics were applied to the participants' entries to rank them. Finally, we announced the winners/prizes and discussed the lessons learned, the the legacy tutorial as well as heard the 3 finalist teams give their feedback!
Today, we decided to put on arXiv the two long awaited papers about high contrast polarimetry with SPHERE. This work started back in 2014-2015 when Jos was by PhD student and Rob came along for a Diploma internship.
The polarimetric imaging mode of VLT/SPHERE/IRDIS I: Description, data reduction and observing strategy.
J. de Boer, M. Langlois, R. G. van Holstein, J. H. Girard, D. Mouillet, A. Vigan, K. Dohlen, F. Snik, C. U. Keller, C. Ginski, D. M. Stam, J. Milli, Z. Wahhaj, M. Kasper, H. M. Schmid, P. Rabou, L. Gluck, E. Hugot, D. Perret, P. Martinez, L. Weber, J. Pragt, J.-F. Sauvage, A. Boccaletti, H. Le Coroller, C. Dominik, T. Henning, E. Lagadec, F. Ménard, M. Turatto, S. Udry, G. Chauvin, M. Feldt, J.-L. Beuzit
Context. Polarimetric imaging is one of the most effective techniques for high-Contrast imaging and characterization of protoplanetary disks, and has the potential to be instrumental in characterizing exoplanets. VLT/SPHERE contains the InfraRed Dual-band Imager and Spectrograph (IRDIS) with a dual-beam polarimetric imaging (DPI) mode, which offers the capability to obtain linear polarization images at high Contrast and resolution. Aims. We aim to provide an overview of IRDIS/DPI and study its optical design to improve observing strategies and data reduction. Methods. For H-band observations of TW Hya, we compare two data reduction methods that correct for instrumental polarization effects in different ways: a minimization of the noise image, and a polarimetric-model-based correction method that we present in Paper II of this study. Results. We use observations of TW Hya to illustrate the data reduction. In the images of the protoplanetary disk around this star we detect variability in the polarized intensity and angle of linear polarization with pointing-dependent instrument configuration. We explain these variations as instrumental polarization effects and correct for these effects using our model-based correction method. Conclusions. IRDIS/DPI has proven to be a very successful and productive high-Contrast polarimetric imaging system. However, the instrument performance depends on the specific instrument configuration. We suggest adjustments to future observing strategies to optimize polarimetric efficiency in field tracking mode by avoiding unfavourable derotator angles. We recommend reducing on-sky data with the pipeline called IRDAP that includes the model-based correction method (described in Paper II) to optimally account for the remaining telescope and instrumental polarization effects and to retrieve the true polarization state of the incident light.
The polarimetric imaging mode of VLT/SPHERE/IRDIS II: Characterization and correction of instrumental polarization effects.
R.G. van Holstein, J.H. Girard, J. de Boer, F. Snik, J. Milli, D.M. Stam, C. Ginski, D. Mouillet, Z. Wahhaj, H.M. Schmid, C.U. Keller, M. Langlois, K. Dohlen, A. Vigan, A. Pohl, M. Carbillet, D. Fantinel, D. Maurel, A. Origné, C. Petit, J. Ramos, F. Rigal, A. Sevin, A. Boccaletti, H. Le Coroller, C. Dominik, T. Henning, E. Lagadec, F. Ménard, M. Turatto, S. Udry, G. Chauvin, M. Feldt, J.-L. Beuzit
Context. Circumstellar disks and self-luminous giant exoplanets or companion brown dwarfs can be characterized through direct-imaging polarimetry at near-infrared wavelengths. SPHERE/IRDIS at the Very Large Telescope has the capabilities to perform such measurements, but uncalibrated instrumental polarization effects limit the attainable polarimetric accuracy. Aims. We aim to characterize and correct the instrumental polarization effects of the complete optical system, i.e. the telescope and SPHERE/IRDIS. Methods. We create a detailed Mueller matrix model in the broadband filters Y-, J-, H- and Ks, and calibrate it using measurements with SPHERE's internal light source and observations of two unpolarized stars. We develop a data-reduction method that uses the model to correct for the instrumental polarization effects, and apply it to observations of the circumstellar disk of T Cha. Results. The instrumental polarization is almost exclusively produced by the telescope and SPHERE's first mirror and varies with telescope altitude angle. The crosstalk primarily originates from the image derotator (K-mirror). At some orientations, the derotator causes severe loss of signal (>90% loss in H- and Ks-band) and strongly offsets the angle of linear polarization. With our correction method we reach in all filters a total polarimetric accuracy of <0.1% in the degree of linear polarization and an accuracy of a few degrees in angle of linear polarization. Conclusions. The correction method enables us to accurately measure the polarized intensity and angle of linear polarization of circumstellar disks, and is a vital tool for detecting unresolved (inner) disks and measuring the polarization of substellar companions. We have incorporated the correction method in a highly-automatic end-to-end data-reduction pipeline called IRDAP which is publicly available at https://irdap.readthedocs.io.
TOI-503: The first known Brown Dwarf-Am star binary from the TESS mission. (arXiv:190
Attending Blake Pantoja's PhD defense remotely (happening at the Universidad de Chile's Cero Calan) from my office @STScI.
I am very proud and happy to have co-directed Blake's thesis with James Jenkins and sorry not being able to attend in person! His thesis work started when I was working at ESO. Blake was awarded the competitive ESO PhD studentship for a year. He learned all the intricacies of high contrast, direct imaging. Together we made preliminary tests and analysis of a fast pace star hopping with VLT/SPHERE.
"SAFARI: Bridging the Gap Between Radial Velocities and Direct Imaging".