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Session 70 - Searching for Other Planetary Systems.
Display session, Wednesday, January 17
North Banquet Hall, Convention Center

[70.10] Using the Hobby\bulletEberly Telescope to Search for Other Planetary Systems

W. D. Cochran, A. P. Hatzes (U. Texas)

The Hobby\bulletEberly Telescope (HET), now under construction on Mt. Fowlkes in west Texas, will be an ideal facility to use for a high-precision radial-velocity survey for other planetary systems. The HET will be operated primarily in a queue-scheduled mode, with the observing programs of all observers interleaved to optimize the operating efficiency of the telescope. The fiber-fed high-resolution (\rmR = 60,000) spectrograph for the HET, used in conjunction with a temperature stabilized I_2 gas absorption cell, should give radial-velocity precision of better than 2-3\,m\,s^-1 for stars of \rmV = 10 in an exposure of less than 10 minutes. This level of precision will allow us to detect a Saturn-sized planet in orbit around a solar-type star. This program will not require a large amount of time on the HET, but will need exposures of target stars spread over a period of time in a quasi-random manner to avoid the problems of periodic aliasing in the spectral window. The ability to achieve such high radial-velocity precision on stars of \rmV = 10-12 opens up a qualitatively new class of science in planet detection. Our radial-velocity survey will expand from a few dozen stars to several hundred candidates. This will enable selection of a controlled sample of stars in order to investigate the frequency and characteristics of planetary systems as a function of stellar mass, age, metallicity, rotation, and magnetic field. In this manner, real physical constraints will be placed on models of planetary system formation. The HET with queue scheduling will probably be the most effective large telescope to undertake a serious, large-sample, high-precision radial-velocity survey for other planetary systems.

Program listing for Wednesday