Radial velocity search for low mass companions of nearby stars

T. Mazeh, D. W. Latham, P. Stefanik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The detection of substellar companions of nearby stars is very difficult, because these objects are very faint and are located close to their bright parent stars. One way to attack this problem is to look for small periodic motion of the bright star, induced by the gravitational attraction exerted by the unseen small companion. Over the past decade stellar spectroscopy has been used by a few teams to monitor the radial velocities of several samples of stars, with a threshold for detection of companions well below the substellar limit of about 0.08 M⊙. So far, only a few possible spectroscopic binaries have been identified where the unseen companions might be substellar. Recently, radio observers discovered that the millisecond pulsar PSR B1257 + 12 displays periodic variations in the pulse arrival times, indicating the existence of at least three unseen companions in circular orbits around the pulsar. This is the first convincing case for an extra-solar planetary system. This discovery suggests that planetary systems can form in very different situations, and therefore may prove to be common.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)593-598
Number of pages6
JournalActa Astronautica
Volume42
Issue number10-12
DOIs
StatePublished - 1998

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