High-contrast imaging of Sirius A with VLT/SPHERE : looking for giant planets down to one astronomical unit Article - Novembre 2015

Arthur Vigan, C. Gry, G. Salter, D. Mesa, D. Homeier, C. Moutou, F. Allard

Arthur Vigan, C. Gry, G. Salter, D. Mesa, D. Homeier, C. Moutou, F. Allard, « High-contrast imaging of Sirius A with VLT/SPHERE : looking for giant planets down to one astronomical unit  », Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, novembre 2015, pp. 129—143. ISSN 0035-8711

Abstract

Sirius has always attracted a lot of scientific interest, especially after the discovery of a companion white dwarf at the end of the 19th century. Very early on, the existence of a potential third bodywas put forward to explain some of the observed properties of the system. We present new coronagraphic observations obtained with VLT/SPHERE (Very Large Telescope/SpectroPolarimetric High-contrast Exoplanet REsearch) that explore, for the very first time, the innermost regions of the system down to 0.2 arcsec(0.5 au) from Sirius A. Our observations cover the near-infrared from 0.95 to 2.3 mu m and they offer the best on-sky contrast ever reached at these angular separations. After detailing the steps of our SPHERE/IRDIFS data analysis, we present a robust method to derive detection limits for multispectral data from high-contrast imagers and spectrographs. In terms of raw performance, we report contrasts of 14.3 mag at 0.2 arcsec, similar to 16.3 mag in the 0.4-1.0 arcsec range and down to 19 mag at 3.7 arcsec. In physical units, our observations are sensitive to giant planets down to 11 M-Jup at 0.5 au, 6-7 M-Jup in the 1-2 au range and similar to 4 M-Jup at 10 au. Despite the exceptional sensitivity of our observations, we do not report the detection of additional companions around Sirius A. Using a Monte Carlo orbital analysis, we show that we can reject, with about 50 per cent probability, the existence of an 8 M-Jup planet orbiting at 1 au.

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