Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad Gobierno de Canarias Universidad de La Laguna CSIC Centro de Excelencia Severo Ochoa

Astrophysics Research Projects

Physic of Stars, Planetary Systems and the Interstellar Medium

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Very Low Mass Stars, Brown Dwarfs and Giant Planets (P/309506)


Jonay González Hernández, Bartosz Gauza, Patricia Chinchilla Gallego, Zenghua Zhang, Sergio Velasco Muñoz, Víctor J. Sánchez Béjar, Carlos Allende Prieto, Nicolas Lodieu, Borja Toledo Padrón

M.R. Zapatero Osorio (CAB CSIC-INTA, Spain); A. Pérez-Garrido, I. Villo, A. Díaz Sánchez, E. Jodar (Univ. Politécnica de Cartagena, Spain); C. McKay, D. King (Univ. Cambridge); M. Pérez Cagigal (Univ. Cantabria, Spain); T. Henning, R. Mundt (MPIA); G. Bihain (Inst. of Astrophysics of Potsdam); P. Lucas, D. Pinfield, H. Jones, F. Marocco (Univ. Hertfordshire), M.T. Ruiz (Univ. Chile), L. Labadie (Univ. Colonia); Ya. Pavlenko (Main Astronomical Observatory Ukraine); R. Smart (Osservatorio Astrofisico di Torino); A. Burgasser (UC San Diego); F. Allard (ENS-Lyon); R. Raddi (Univ. Warwick).


Our goal is to study the processes that lead to the formation of low mass stars, brown dwarfs and planets and to characterize the physical properties of these objects in various evolutionary stages. Low mass stars and brown dwarfs are likely the most numerous type of objects in our Galaxy but due to their low intrinsic luminosity they are not so well known. We aim to study the frequency, multiplicity and spatial distribution of these objects in the solar neighbourhood and in nearby star forming regions and stellar clusters in order to better understand the mechanism of formation, characterise their optical and infrared properties and establish the relation between spectral properties, mass and luminosity. Most of our effort will be dedicated to push toward lower mass limits the detection of these astros either bounded to stars and brown dwarfs and/or free-floating in interstellar space. The lowest mass objects display a lower intrinsic luminosity and cooler effective temperatures thus they are remarkably difficult to detect using direct imaging techniques. However, these techniques allow a full photometric and spectroscopic characterization and a best determination of their physical and chemical properties. We also aim to investigate the presence of planets around low mass stars using radial velocity measurements and techniques for high spatial resolution imaging. We will develop ultrastable spectrographs for large telescopes and systems for ultrafast imaging. With the spectrographs it would be possible to detect planets of similar mass to the Earth around G, K and M-type stars. The goal is to establish the frequency of these planets in stars of the solar neighbourhood and characterise the properties of the associated planetary systems.


-Discovery of two low-mass planets, ~6.3 and 2.5 Earth masses, orbiting M-type star using the ultra-stable spectrograph HARPSN installed at the TNG telescope (Affer et al. 2016)

- Commissioning of AOLI and first refereed publication with its data (Velasco et al. 2016).

- FastCam comes back to the NOT, the final opto-mechanical design is successfully installed for the first time. The search for multiplicity on stars with IR excess starts.

- Discovery of 100 new M subdwarfs in large-scale surveys UKIDSS, SDSs, and 2MASS and determination of the space density of metal-poor M dwarfs.

- In 2016 we published the discovery of an isolated planet of spectral type L4-L6 in the star forming region of Upper Scorpius (Peña-Ramírez et al., 2016). It is one of the coolest and least massive known planetary-mass objects.

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