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T.J. Henry, W.-C. Jao, J.P. Subasavage (Georgia State), RECONS Team
The RECONS group continues to discover many nearby red dwarfs in the southern sky through a combination of proper motion surveys, literature review, and ultimately, our parallax program CTIOPI. Already, we have measured the first accurate parallaxes for 11 of the nearest 100 stellar systems, including four within 5 parsecs of the Sun.
These nearby red dwarfs are prime candidates for NASA's Space Interferometry Mission (SIM) because the astrometric perturbations are largest for planets orbiting stars of low mass that are nearby. In addition, new multiple red dwarf systems can be targeted for mass determinations, thereby providing points on a comprehensive mass-luminosity relation for the most populous members of the Galaxy.
Recent atmospheric modeling of planets orbiting red dwarfs indicates that even if the planets are tidally locked, heat distribution is highly effective in keeping the worlds balmy over the entire surface. Red dwarfs are therefore "back on the table" as viable hosts of life-bearing planets. Given their ubiquity, red dwarfs are being seriously considered as prime SETI targets, and will allow us to answer not only the question "Are We Alone?" but "Just How Alone Are We?"
This work has been supported by the National Science Foundation, NASA's Space Interferometry Mission, and Georgia State University.
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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 37 #4
© 2005. The American Astronomical Soceity.