NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2017B-0226

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Program Information for 2017B-0226


PI: David Ciardi, IPAC, ciardi@ipac.caltech.edu
Address: 1200 E. California Ave MS 100-22, Pasadena, CA 91125 USA

CoI: Steve B Howell, NASA Ames Research Center
CoI: Maggie Turnbull, SETI Institute/NASA Ames Research Center
CoI: Stephen Kane, SFSU

Title: Understanding the Stellar Multiplicity of Exoplanet Direct Imaging Targets: Preparing NASA for WFIRST

Abstract: Planning for observations with the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) is well underway, and part of this effort is to identify the best set of targets to observe with the coronagrahic instrument to directly image and retrieve spectra of planets orbiting other stars. The WFIRST coronagraphic instrument will be the first mission capable of directly imaging cool Neptune and Saturn-sized planets. Given integration times that may entail days to weeks, selection of an appropriate target list is critical to the success and efficiency of the WFIRST mission. Appropriate selection of targets must include an understanding of the bound and unbound stellar multiplicity of the targets - either from the point of view of avoiding stars with companions or, at least, assessing the potential effects of companions. Bound stars may prevent planets from existing in the region of WFIRST sensitivity and unbound background stars may hide planets in their glare. We are proposing to use the new NN-Explore Exoplanet Stellar Speckle Imager (NESSI) on the WIYN telescope to begin a complete and uniform survey of the candidate targets for the WFIRST mission. By starting now, we can utilize the proper motion of the targets advantageously to search for background stars at the future sky positions of the targets. NESSI on WIYN provides a near diffraction resolution limit yielding angular resolutions of 0.04${arcsec}$ corresponding to physical resolutions of 1.0 AU or better for the WFIRST targets which are typically $15 - 20$ pc away. Identifying clean targets for WFIRST is critical to the planning and design of the WFIRST mission These observations, in concert with the long term astrometric and radial velocity monitoring that {it Gaia} will perform, will enable us to map out fully the presence of bound and unbound stellar companions and will be critical to the assessment these potential WFIRST targets.

Program Type: Standard/NASA WIYN

Scheduled Nights:
Run 1 (2017B):  WIYNQ/NESSI -- 40hrs


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