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3C 294 is a powerful FR II type radio galaxy at z = 1.786. Due to its proximity of a bright star, it has been subject to several adaptive optics supported imaging studies. The system shows a clumpy structure indicative of a merging system. There is even tentative evidence that 3C 294 hosts a dual AGN. In order to distinguish between the various scenarios for 3C 294 we performed deep high-resolution adaptive optics imaging and optical spectroscopy of 3C 294 with the Large Binocular Telescope. We resolve the 3C 294 system in three distinct components separated by a few tenths of an arcsecond. One of them is compact, the other two are extended. The nature of the latter is unclear. They could be a single galaxy with an internal dust absorption feature, a galaxy merger, or two galaxies at different redshifts. We can now uniquely associate the radio source of 3c 294 with one of the extended components. Based on our spectroscopy, we determine a slightly different redshift of z = 1.784. We find, however, in addition a single emission line at a wavelength of 6745 AA, which might be identified with Lyα at z = 4.56. It thus appears unlikely that 3C294 hosts a dual AGN; it might rather be a pair of AGNs with very small projected separation.
CARMENES (Calar Alto high-Resolution search for M dwarfs with Exo-earths with Near-infrared and optical Echelle Spectrographs) is a next-generation instrument for the 3.5 m telescope at the Calar Alto Observatory. CARMENES will conduct a five-year exoplanet survey targeting ~300 M stars. The CARMENES instrument consists of two separate fiber-fed spectrographs covering the wavelength range from 0.52 to 1.7 μm at a spectral resolution of R = 85,000. The spectrographs are housed in a temperature-stabilized environment in vacuum tanks, to enable a 1 m/s radial velocity precision employing a simultaneous emission-line calibration.
Division IX provides a forum for astronomers engaged in the planning, development, construction, and calibration of optical and infrared telescopes and instrumentation, as well as observational procedures including data processing. A few years ago, discussions were started about changes in the structure of Division IX, with the aim of bringing it more in line with today's world of large coordinated projects and multi-national observatories. The course of this process, and further steps to be taken in the period from 2009 to 2012, were at the focus of the deliberations at the business meeting of Division IX at the IAU General Assembly in Rio de Janeiro.
Ground-based optical interferometers can perform astrometric measurements with a precision approaching 10μas between pairs of stars separated by ~10″ on the sky. These narrow-angle measurements can be used to search for extrasolar planets and to determine their orbital parameters, to characterize microlensing events, and to measure the orbits of stars around the black hole at the center of our Galaxy.
Division IX provides a forum for astronomers engaged in the planning, development, construction, and calibration of optical and infrared telescopes and instrumentation, as well as observational procedures including data processing.
Commission 53 on Extrasolar Planets was created at the 2006 Prague General Assembly of the IAU, in recognition of the outburst of astronomical progress in the field of extrasolar planet discovery, characterization, and theoretical work that has occurred since the discovery of the pulsar planets in 1992 and the discovery of the first planet in orbit around a solar-type star in 1995. Commission 53 is the logical successor to the IAU Working Group on Extrasolar Planets WG-ESP, which ended its six years of existence in August 2006. The founding president of Commission 53 is Michael Mayor, in honor of his seminal contributions to this new field of astronomy. The vice-president is Alan Boss, the former chair of the WG-ESP, and the members of the Commission 53 Organizing Committee are the other former members of the WG-ESP.
We report on a high-spatial-resolution survey for binary stars in the periphery of the Orion Nebula Cluster, at 5–15 arcmin (0.65 – 2 pc) from the cluster center. We observed 228 stars with adaptive optics systems, in order to find companions at separations of 0.13 – 1.12 arcsec (60 – 500 AU), and detected 13 new binaries. Combined with the results of Petr (1998), we have a sample of 275 objects, about half of which have masses from the literature and high probabilities to be cluster members. We used an improved method to derive the completeness limits of the observations, which takes into account the elongated point spread function of stars at relatively large distances from the adaptive optics guide star. The multiplicity of stars with masses >2 M⊙ is found to be significantly larger than that of low-mass stars. The companion star frequency of low-mass stars is comparable to that of main-sequence M-dwarfs, less than half that of solar-type main-sequence stars, and 3.5 to 5 times lower than in the Taurus-Auriga and Scorpius-Centaurus star-forming regions. We find the binary frequency of low-mass stars in the periphery of the cluster to be the same or only slightly higher than for stars in the cluster core (< 3′ from θ1C Ori). This is in contrast to the prediction of the theory that the low binary frequency in the cluster is caused by the disruption of binaries due to dynamical interactions. There are two ways out of this dilemma: Either the initial binary frequency in the Orion Nebula Cluster was lower than in Taurus-Auriga, or the Orion Nebula Cluster was originally much denser and dynamically more active. A detailed report of this work has been published in Astronomy & Astrophysics (Köhler et al. 2006).
The Working Group on Extrasolar Planets (hereafter the WGESP) was created at a meeting of the IAU Executive Council in 1999 as a Working Group of IAU Division III and was renewed for three more years at the IAU General Assembly in 2003. The charge of the WGESP is to act as a focal point for international research on extrasolar planets. The membership of the WGESP has remained unchanged for the last three years.
The direct detection of light emitted or reflected by extrasolar planets will soon allow studies of the physical properties of their surfaces and atmospheres. This article gives an overview of the scientific perspectives and the techniques that are currently being developed for observations of gas giants and terrestrial planets from the ground and in space.
Astrometry is the most powerful technique to determine dynamical masses and orbital parameters of extrasolar planets. The careful selection and characterization of reference stars is crucial for the success of any astrometric program. The best reference stars for NASA's Space Interferometry Mission (SIM) are distant K giants. The first sub-stellar companion to a K giant was recently detected serendipitously in a radial-velocity survey aimed at defining the SIM grid star strategy.
Interferometric observations of binary stars have a profound impact on many areas of stellar astrophysics. This article gives a brief review of interferometric techniques applied to binaries, and of orbit determination and binary surveys with optical and infrared interferometers.
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