DPS Pasadena Meeting 2000, 23-27 October 2000
Session 32. Extra-Solar Planets Posters
Displayed, 1:00pm, Monday - 1:00pm, Friday, Highlighted Tuesday and Thursday, 3:30-6:30pm, C101-C105, C211

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[32.11] An adaptive optics search for young extrasolar planets

B. Macintosh (IGPP, LLNL), B. Zuckerman, E. E. Becklin, D. Kaisler, P. Lowrance (Dept. of Physics and Astronomy, UCLA), C. E. Max, S. Olivier (LLNL)

In the past five years, many extrasolar planets have been detected indirectly, through radial velocity variations induced in their parent stars. Advances in technology now open up the possibility of directly detecting extrasolar planets through the photons they emit. Direct detection would allow determination of the temperature, radius, and composition of a planet, particularly one in a wide orbit - an important complement to radial velocity techniques. Seeing a planet against the halo of scattered light from its parent star is extremely challenging, but adaptive optics (AO) on 8-10 m telescopes can make this possible. The first such large-telescope AO system is now operational on the 10-m W.M. Keck II telescope. Its current performance is sufficient to detect objects at contrast ratios of 105 at separations of 1" and 106 at 2". This is insufficient to detect the reflected light from a mature Jupiter-like planet, but we can easily detect the near-infrared thermal emission from young (<10-50 MYr) planets, or older brown dwarfs. We are carrying out a search for such planetary companions to young nearby stars, including the TW Hydrae association. We present preliminary results from this survey, including sensitivity limits and follow-up of candidate companions originally detected by NICMOS. We have also imaged the Epsilon Eridani system, and present upper limits on the brightness of the planet detected via radial velocity variations by Cochran et al.

This research was performed under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Energy by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory under Contract W-7405-ENG-48, and also supported in part by the Center for Adaptive Optics under the STC Program of the National Science Foundation under Agreement No. AST-9876783

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