Sparse aperture masking interferometry survey of transitional discs. Search for substellar-mass companions and asymmetries in their parent discs
Astronomy and Astrophysics
EDP Sciences for European Southern Observatory (ESO)
© ESO 2016
Context. Transitional discs are a class of circumstellar discs around young stars with extensive clearing of dusty material within their inner regions on 10s of au scales. One of the primary candidates for this kind of clearing is the formation of planet(s) within the disc that then accrete or clear their immediate area as they migrate through the disc. Aims. The goal of this survey was to search for asymmetries in the brightness distribution around a selection of transitional disc targets. We then aimed to determine whether these asymmetries trace dynamically-induced structures in the disc or the gap-opening planets themselves. Methods. Our sample included eight transitional discs. Using the Keck/NIRC2 instrument we utilised the Sparse Aperture Masking (SAM) interferometry technique to search for asymmetries indicative of ongoing planet formation. We searched for close-in companions using both model fitting and interferometric image reconstruction techniques. Using simulated data, we derived diagnostics that helped us to distinguish between point sources and extended asymmetric disc emission. In addition, we investigated the degeneracy between the contrast and separation that appear for marginally resolved companions. Results. We found FP Tau to contain a previously unseen disc wall, and DM Tau, LkHα330, and TW Hya to contain an asymmetric signal indicative of point source-like emission. We placed upper limits on the contrast of a companion in RXJ 1842.9-3532 and V2246 Oph. We ruled the asymmetry signal in RXJ 1615.3-3255 and V2062 Oph to be false positives. In the cases where our data indicated a potential companion we computed estimates for the value of McṀc and found values in the range of 10−5−10−3 M2J yr−1. Conclusions. We found significant asymmetries in four targets. Of these, three were consistent with companions. We resolved a previously unseen gap in the disc of FP Tau extending inwards from approximately 10 au.
We acknowledge support from a STFC Rutherford Fellowship and Grant (ST/J004030/1, ST/K003445/1), Marie Sklodowska-Curie CIG grant (Ref. 618910), and Philip Leverhulme Prize (PLP-2013-110). We additionally acknowledge support from NASA KPDA grants (JPL-1452321, 1474717, 1485953, 1496788). The authors wish to recognise and acknowledge the very significant cultural role and reverence that the summit of Mauna Kea has always had within the indigenous Hawaiian community. We are most fortunate to have the opportunity to conduct observations from this mountain. Some of the data presented herein were obtained at the W.M. Keck Observatory, which is operated as a scientific partnership among the California Institute of Technology, the University of California and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Observatory was made possible by the generous financial support of the W.M. Keck Foundation.
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from EDP Sciences via the DOI in this record.
Vol. 595, article A9