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M. W. Muterspaugh (Caltech/MIT), PTI: Palomar Testbed Interferometer Collaboration, PHASES Team
A new observing method has been developed to perform very high precision differential astrometry on bright binary stars with separations in the range of 0.1-1.0 arcseconds. Typical measurement precisions over an hour of integration are on the order of 10 micro-arcseconds, enabling one to look for perturbations to the Keplerian orbit that would indicate the presence of additional components to the system. This is used as the basis for a new program to find extrasolar planets. The Palomar High-precision Astrometric Search for Exoplanet Systems (PHASES) is a search for giant planets orbiting either star in 50 binary systems. The goal of this search is to detect or rule out planets in the systems observed and thus place limits on any enhancements of planet formation in binaries. It is also used to measure fundamental properties of the stars comprising the binary, such as masses and distances, useful for constraining stellar models at the 10-3 level. This work is funded in part by a Michelson Graduate Fellowship, the California Institute of Technology Astronomy Department, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration under Grant No. NNG05GJ58G issued through the Terrestrial Planet Finder Foundation Science Program.
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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 37 #4
© 2005. The American Astronomical Soceity.