Title: Dust Disk/Planet Interactions: Gemini Deep Search for Fomalhaut Planet
Abstract: The recent optical detection of the narrow dust belt surrounding the young A star Fomalhaut (see Fig. 1; Kalas et al. 2005) shows a disk center offset from the star and an inner belt sharp edge, both evidence for dynamical sculpting by a planet. With a relatively young age of 200 Myr and heliocentric distance 7.7 pc, a giant planet orbiting Fomalhaut is detectable by direct imaging. The primary goal of this proposal is to exploit this unique system by conducting a deep highly-sensitive search for the possible planet combining Altair/NIRI adaptive optics imaging with our optimized Angular Differential Imaging (ADI) acquisition and data reduction stategy. The technique consists of acquiring images with image rotator fixed. This allows the field to rotate - negligible over individual short exposures - but produces an extremely stable point spread function (PSF). We process sequential images using our ADI pipeline to remove the PSF while retaining the flux from any planet. Successive images are then rotated and aligned to produce a deep final image. In 10h integration time, we will reach a 1 Mjup detection limit, sufficient to detect the planet inferred from dynamical models of the dust belt.
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