Deep Exploration of ɛ Eridani with Keck Ms-band Vortex Coronagraphy and Radial Velocities: Mass and Orbital Parameters of the Giant Exoplanet

January 2019 • 2019AJ....157...33M

Authors • Mawet, Dimitri • Hirsch, Lea • Lee, Eve J. • Ruffio, Jean-Baptiste • Bottom, Michael • Fulton, Benjamin J. • Absil, Olivier • Beichman, Charles • Bowler, Brendan • Bryan, Marta • Choquet, Elodie • Ciardi, David • Christiaens, Valentin • Defrère, Denis • Gomez Gonzalez, Carlos Alberto • Howard, Andrew W. • Huby, Elsa • Isaacson, Howard • Jensen-Clem, Rebecca • Kosiarek, Molly • Marcy, Geoff • Meshkat, Tiffany • Petigura, Erik • Reggiani, Maddalena • Ruane, Garreth • Serabyn, Eugene • Sinukoff, Evan • Wang, Ji • Weiss, Lauren • Ygouf, Marie

Abstract • We present the most sensitive direct imaging and radial velocity (RV) exploration of ɛ Eridani to date. ɛ Eridani is an adolescent planetary system, reminiscent of the early solar system. It is surrounded by a prominent and complex debris disk that is likely stirred by one or several gas giant exoplanets. The discovery of the RV signature of a giant exoplanet was announced 15 yr ago, but has met with scrutiny due to possible confusion with stellar noise. We confirm the planet with a new compilation and analysis of precise RV data spanning 30 yr, and combine it with upper limits from our direct imaging search, the most sensitive ever performed. The deep images were taken in the Ms band (4.7 μm) with the vortex coronagraph recently installed in W.M. Keck Observatory’s infrared camera NIRC2, which opens a sensitive window for planet searches around nearby adolescent systems. The RV data and direct imaging upper limit maps were combined in an innovative joint Bayesian analysis, providing new constraints on the mass and orbital parameters of the elusive planet. ɛ Eridani b has a mass of {0.78}-0.12+0.38 M Jup and is orbiting ɛ Eridani at about 3.48 ± 0.02 au with a period of 7.37 ± 0.07 yr. The eccentricity of ɛ Eridani b’s orbit is {0.07}-0.05+0.06, an order of magnitude smaller than early estimates and consistent with a circular orbit. We discuss our findings from the standpoint of planet-disk interactions and prospects for future detection and characterization with the James Webb Space Telescope.

Based on observations obtained at the W. M. Keck Observatory, which is operated jointly by the University of California and the California Institute of Technology. Keck time was granted for this project by Caltech, the University of Hawai’i, the University of California, and NASA.


IPAC Authors


David Ciardi

Senior Scientist


Benjamin Fulton

Assistant Scientist