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Habitable Worlds Around M Dwarf Stars: The CAPSCam Astrometric Planet Search

  • Alan P. Boss (a1), Alycia J. Weinberger (a2), Guillem Anglada-Escudé (a3), Ian B. Thompson (a4) and Rafael Brahm (a5)...

Abstract

M dwarf stars are attractive targets in the search for habitable worlds as a result of their relative abundance and proximity, making them likely targets for future direct detection efforts. Hot super-Earths as well as gas giants have already been detected around a number of early M dwarfs, and the former appear to be the high-mass end of the population of rocky, terrestrial exoplanets. The Carnegie Astrometric Planet Search (CAPS) program has been underway since March 2007, searching ~ 100 nearby late M, L, and T dwarfs for gas giant planets on orbits wide enough for habitable worlds to orbit interior to them. The CAPSCam-N camera on the 2.5-m du Pont telescope at the Las Campanas Observatory has demonstrated the ability to detect planets as low in mass as Saturn orbiting at several AU around late M dwarfs within 15 pc. Over the next decade, the CAPS program will provide new constraints on the planetary census around late M dwarf stars, and hence on the suitability of these nearby planetary systems for supporting life.

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