NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2006A-0118

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Proposal Information for 2006A-0118


PI: I. N. Reid, STScI, inr@stsci.edu
Address: 3700 San Martin Drive, Baltimore, MD 21218, USA

CoI: L. Close, U. Arzona
CoI: N. Siegler, U. Arizona
CoI: K. L. Cruz, AMNH, New York
CoI: S. Daemgen, Univ. of Heidelberg

Title: Searching for planetary-mass companions to the youngest, nearest M dwarfs

Abstract: We propose to use Altair, coupled with NIRI, on Gemini North to continue our search for planetary-mass companions to the youngest M dwarfs within 20 parsecs of the Sun. The targets have been selected by matching our nearby-star census against ROSAT observations. During semesters 2005A and 2005B, we targeted 43 apparently single proper motion stars with X-ray activity levels comparable to stars in the Pleiades. Analysis of our semester 2005A data reveals five new low-mass binaries (another was confirmed) and four possible brown dwarf companions. We have since identified a further 44 young (X-ray active) M dwarfs, all new discoveries from our NStars survey. Allowing for the intrinsic dispersion in stars of similar age, these field stars are all younger than 500 Myrs. We propose to obtain short (unsaturated) and deep H, K AO images of 37 young M dwarfs: the 29 new stars that are accessible in the current semester; 3 unobserved stars from the original sample; and 5 stars with candidate companions (including 4 with potentially very low-mass) where second-epoch observations will verify association with the primary. Our observations will achieve limiting magnitudes of H~ 20.0, corresponding to M_H ~ 18.5, or an 8 M_Jup-mass companion at an age of 500 Myrs.


National Optical Astronomy Observatory, 950 North Cherry Avenue, P.O. Box 26732, Tucson, Arizona 85726, Phone: (520) 318-8000, Fax: (520) 318-8360



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