An Updated Visual Orbit of the Directly Imaged Exoplanet 51 Eridani b and Prospects for a Dynamical Mass Measurement with Gaia

January 2020 • 2020AJ....159....1D

Authors • De Rosa, Robert J. • Nielsen, Eric L. • Wang, Jason J. • Ammons, S. Mark • Duchêne, Gaspard • Macintosh, Bruce • Rameau, Julien • Bailey, Vanessa P. • Barman, Travis • Bulger, Joanna • Chilcote, Jeffrey • Cotten, Tara • Doyon, Rene • Esposito, Thomas M. • Fitzgerald, Michael P. • Follette, Katherine B. • Gerard, Benjamin L. • Goodsell, Stephen J. • Graham, James R. • Greenbaum, Alexandra Z. • Hibon, Pascale • Hom, Justin • Hung, Li-Wei • Ingraham, Patrick • Kalas, Paul • Konopacky, Quinn • Larkin, James E. • Maire, Jérôme • Marchis, Franck • Marley, Mark S. • Marois, Christian • Metchev, Stanimir • Millar-Blanchaer, Maxwell A. • Oppenheimer, Rebecca • Palmer, David • Patience, Jennifer • Perrin, Marshall • Poyneer, Lisa • Pueyo, Laurent • Rajan, Abhijith • Rantakyrö, Fredrik T. • Ren, Bin • Ruffio, Jean-Baptiste • Savransky, Dmitry • Schneider, Adam C. • Sivaramakrishnan, Anand • Song, Inseok • Soummer, Remi • Tallis, Melisa • Thomas, Sandrine • Wallace, J. Kent • Ward-Duong, Kimberly • Wiktorowicz, Sloane • Wolff, Schuyler

Abstract • We present a revision to the visual orbit of the young, directly imaged exoplanet 51 Eridani b using four years of observations with the Gemini Planet Imager. The relative astrometry is consistent with an eccentric (e={0.53}-0.13+0.09) orbit at an intermediate inclination (i={136}-11+10 °), although circular orbits cannot be excluded due to the complex shape of the multidimensional posterior distribution. We find a semimajor axis of {11.1}-1.3+4.2 au and a period of {28.1}-4.9+17.2 yr, assuming a mass of 1.75 {M} for the host star. We find consistent values with a recent analysis of VLT/SPHERE data covering a similar baseline. We investigate the potential of using the absolute astrometry of the host star to obtain a dynamical mass constraint for the planet. The astrometric acceleration of 51 Eri derived from a comparison of the Hipparcos and Gaia catalogs was found to be inconsistent at the 2σ-3σ level with the predicted reflex motion induced by the orbiting planet. Potential sources of this inconsistency include a combination of random and systematic errors between the two astrometric catalogs and the signature of an additional companion within the system interior to current detection limits. We also explored the potential of using Gaia astrometry alone for a dynamical mass measurement of the planet by simulating Gaia measurements of the motion of the photocenter of the system over the course of the extended 8 yr mission. We find that such a measurement is only possible (>98% probability) given the most optimistic predictions for the Gaia scan astrometric uncertainties for bright stars and a high mass for the planet (≳3.6 M Jup).


IPAC Authors

Alexandra Greenbaum

Assistant Scientist