Orban de Xivry, G.
Quanz, S. P.
de Zeeuw, T.
AffiliationDepartment of Astronomy and Steward Observatory, University of Arizona
Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, University of Arizona
James C. Wyant College of Optical Sciences, University of Arizona
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CitationWagner, K., Boehle, A., Pathak, P., Kasper, M., Arsenault, R., Jakob, G., ... & de Zeeuw, T. (2021). Imaging low-mass planets within the habitable zone of α Centauri. Nature communications, 12(1), 1-7.
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AbstractGiant exoplanets on wide orbits have been directly imaged around young stars. If the thermal background in the mid-infrared can be mitigated, then exoplanets with lower masses can also be imaged. Here we present a ground-based mid-infrared observing approach that enables imaging low-mass temperate exoplanets around nearby stars, and in particular within the closest stellar system, α Centauri. Based on 75–80% of the best quality images from 100 h of cumulative observations, we demonstrate sensitivity to warm sub-Neptune-sized planets throughout much of the habitable zone of α Centauri A. This is an order of magnitude more sensitive than state-of-the-art exoplanet imaging mass detection limits. We also discuss a possible exoplanet or exozodiacal disk detection around α Centauri A. However, an instrumental artifact of unknown origin cannot be ruled out. These results demonstrate the feasibility of imaging rocky habitable-zone exoplanets with current and upcoming telescopes. © 2021, The Author(s).
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Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as © The Author(s) 2021. Open Access. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.