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Journal Articles Nature Communications Year : 2021

Imaging low-mass planets within the habitable zone of α Centauri

K. Wagner
A. Boehle
P. Pathak
R. Arsenault
  • Function : Author
G. Jakob
  • Function : Author
U. Käufl
S. Leveratto
  • Function : Author
A.-L. Maire
R. Siebenmorgen
G. Zins
  • Function : Author
O. Absil
N. Ageorges
  • Function : Author
D. Apai
  • Function : Author
A. Carlotti
  • Function : Author
É. Choquet
C. Delacroix
K. Dohlen
P. Duhoux
  • Function : Author
P. Forsberg
  • Function : Author
E. Fuenteseca
  • Function : Author
S. Gutruf
  • Function : Author
O. Guyon
E. Huby
  • Function : Author
D. Kampf
  • Function : Author
M. Karlsson
P. Kervella
J.-P. Kirchbauer
  • Function : Author
P. Klupar
  • Function : Author
J. Kolb
  • Function : Author
D. Mawet
  • Function : Author
M. N’diaye
G. Orban de Xivry
S. Quanz
A. Reutlinger
  • Function : Author
G. Ruane
  • Function : Author
M. Riquelme
  • Function : Author
C. Soenke
  • Function : Author
M. Sterzik
A. Vigan
T. de Zeeuw
  • Function : Author


Abstract Giant 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.
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Dates and versions

insu-03373011 , version 1 (13-10-2021)





K. Wagner, A. Boehle, P. Pathak, M. Kasper, R. Arsenault, et al.. Imaging low-mass planets within the habitable zone of α Centauri. Nature Communications, 2021, 12 (1), ⟨10.1038/s41467-021-21176-6⟩. ⟨insu-03373011⟩
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