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Imaging low-mass planets within the habitable zone of α Centauri

Abstract : Abstract Giant exoplanets on wide orbits have been directly imaged around young stars. If the thermal background in the mid-infrared can be mitigated, then exoplanets with lower masses can also be imaged. Here we present a ground-based mid-infrared observing approach that enables imaging low-mass temperate exoplanets around nearby stars, and in particular within the closest stellar system, α Centauri. Based on 75–80% of the best quality images from 100 h of cumulative observations, we demonstrate sensitivity to warm sub-Neptune-sized planets throughout much of the habitable zone of α Centauri A. This is an order of magnitude more sensitive than state-of-the-art exoplanet imaging mass detection limits. We also discuss a possible exoplanet or exozodiacal disk detection around α Centauri A. However, an instrumental artifact of unknown origin cannot be ruled out. These results demonstrate the feasibility of imaging rocky habitable-zone exoplanets with current and upcoming telescopes.
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Contributor : Arthur Vigan Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Wednesday, October 13, 2021 - 1:46:29 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, January 4, 2022 - 6:39:25 AM
Long-term archiving on: : Friday, January 14, 2022 - 6:59:38 PM


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K. Wagner, A. Boehle, P. Pathak, M. Kasper, R. Arsenault, et al.. Imaging low-mass planets within the habitable zone of α Centauri. Nature Communications, Nature Publishing Group, 2021, 12 (1), ⟨10.1038/s41467-021-21176-6⟩. ⟨insu-03373011⟩



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