Constraints on long-period planets from an l′- and m-band survey of nearby sun-like stars: Observations

A. N. Heinze, Philip M. Hinz, Suresh Sivanandam, Matthew Kenworthy, Michael Meyer, Douglas Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


We present the observational results of an L′- and M-band adaptive optics imaging survey of 54 nearby, Sun-like stars for extrasolar planets, carried out using the Clio camera on the MMT. We have concentrated more strongly than all other planet-imaging surveys to date on very nearby F, G, and K stars, prioritizing stellar proximity higher than youth. Ours is also the first survey to include extensive observations in the M band, which supplement the primary L′ observations. Models predict much better planet/star flux ratios at the L′ and M bands than at more commonly used shorter wavelengths (i.e., the H band). We have carried out extensive blind simulations with fake planets inserted into the raw data to verify our sensitivity, and to establish a definitive relationship between source significance in σ and survey completeness. We find 97% confident-detection completeness for 10σ sources, but only 46% for 7σ sources - raising concerns about the standard procedure of assuming high completeness at 5σ, and demonstrating that blind sensitivity tests to establish the significance-completeness relation are an important analysis step for all planet-imaging surveys. We discovered a previously unknown 0.15 M stellar companion to the F9 star GJ 3876, at a projected separation of about 80 AU. Twelve additional candidate faint companions are detected around other stars. Of these, 11 are confirmed to be background stars and one is a previously known brown dwarf. We obtained sensitivity to planetary-mass objects around almost all of our target stars, with sensitivity to objects below 3 M Jup in the best cases. Constraints on planet populations based on this null result are presented in our Modeling Results paper.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1551-1569
Number of pages19
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2010


  • Astrometry
  • Binaries: general
  • Infrared: planetary systems
  • Instrumentation: adaptive optics
  • Planetary systems
  • Planets and satellites: detection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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