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Session 44 - Double Stars.
Display session, Thursday, January 08
Exhibit Hall,

[44.08] HST Coronagraphic Imaging of Proxima Centauri

A. B. Schultz, H. M. Hart, J. L. Hershey, F. C. Hamilton, M. Kochte (CSC/STScI), F. C. Bruhweiler (CUA/IACS), G. F. Benedict (McDonald Obs.), J. Caldwell, C. Cunningham, N. Wu (York Univ.), O. G. Franz (Lowell Obs.), C. D. Keyes (STScI), J. C. Brandt (LASP)

We present HST Faint Object Spectrograph (FOS) coronagraphic images of Proxima Centauri indicating our closest neighbor has a companion. The central region of the Proxima Cen PSF was occulted by the bar of the large barred aperture. Two visits separated by 103 days show a light source within 0.5\arcsec\ of Proxima Cen which moved relative to the FOS aperture and on the plane of the sky. These effects cannot be explained as an instrumental effect. Due to proper motion of Proxima Cen, we have eliminated the possibility that a background star is the light source. No other published observations, imaging or astrometric, show clear evidence of a companion to Proxima Cen. We discuss several interpretations of the data, and suggest possible orbits which could hide a companion from other search techniques.

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