On the origin of the spiral morphology in the Elias 2-27 circumstellar disc [EPA]


The young star Elias 2-27 has recently been observed to posses a massive circumstellar disc with two prominent large-scale spiral arms. In this Letter we perform three-dimensional Smoothed Particle Hydrodynamics simulations, radiative transfer modelling, synthetic ALMA imaging and an unsharped masking technique to explore three possibilities for the origin of the observed structures — an undetected companion either internal or external to the spirals, and a self-gravitating disc. We find that a gravitationally unstable disc and a disc with an external companion can produce morphology that is consistent with the observations. In addition, for the latter, we find that the companion could be a relatively massive planetary mass companion (less than approximately 10 – 13 MJup) and located at large radial distances (between approximately 300 – 700 au). We therefore suggest that Elias 2-27 may be one of the first detections of a disc undergoing gravitational instabilities, or a disc that has recently undergone fragmentation to produce a massive companion.

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F. Meru, A. Juhasz, J. Ilee, et. al.
Fri, 17 Mar 17

Comments: 6 pages, 5 figures, accepted for publication in ApJ Letters

The VLT/NaCo large program to probe the occurrence of exoplanets and brown dwarfs at wide orbits. IV. Gravitational instability rarely forms wide, giant planets [EPA]


Understanding the formation and evolution of giant planets ($\ge$1 $M_{Jup}$) at wide orbital separation ($\ge$5 AU) is one of the goals of direct imaging. Over the past 15 years, many surveys have placed strong constraints on the occurrence rate of wide-orbit giants, mostly based on non-detections, but very few have tried to make a direct link with planet formation theories. In the present work, we combine the results of our previously published VLT/NaCo large program with the results of 12 past imaging surveys to constitute a statistical sample of 199 FGK stars within 100 pc, including 3 stars with sub-stellar companions. Using Monte Carlo simulations and assuming linear flat distributions for the mass and semi-major axis of planets, we estimate the sub-stellar companion frequency to be within 0.75-5.7% at the 68% confidence level (CL) within 20-300 AU and 0.5-75 $M_{Jup}$, which is compatible with previously published results. We also compare our results with the predictions of state-of-the-art population synthesis models based on the gravitational instability (GI) formation scenario by Forgan & Rice (2013), with and without scattering. We estimate that in both the scattered and non-scattered populations, we would be able to detect more than 30% of companions in the 1-75 $M_{Jup}$ range (95% CL). With the 3 sub-stellar detections in our sample, we estimate the fraction of stars that host a planetary system formed by GI to be within 1.0-8.6% (95% CL). We also conclude that even though GI is not common, it predicts a mass distribution of wide-orbit massive companions that is much closer to what is observed than what the core accretion scenario predicts. Finally, we associate the present paper with the release of the Direct Imaging Virtual Archive (DIVA, this http URL), a public database that aims at gathering the results of past, present, and future direct imaging surveys.

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A. Vigan, M. Bonavita, B. Biller, et. al.
Fri, 17 Mar 17

Comments: 20 pages, 11 figures. Accepted for publication in A&A

The HARPS search for southern extra-solar planets XLI. A dozen planets around the M dwarfs GJ 3138, GJ 3323, GJ 273, GJ 628, and GJ 3293 [EPA]


Context. Low mass stars are currently the best targets for searches for rocky planets in the habitable zone of their host star. Over the last 13 years, precise radial velocities measured with the HARPS spectrograph have identified over a dozen super-Earths and Earth-mass planets (msin i<10Mearth ) around M dwarfs, with a well understood selection function. This well defined sample informs on their frequency of occurrence and on the distribution of their orbital parameters, and therefore already constrains our understanding of planetary formation. The subset of these low-mass planets that were found within the habitable zone of their host star also provide prized targets for future atmospheric biomarkers searches. Aims. We are working to extend this planetary sample to lower masses and longer periods through dense and long-term monitoring of the radial velocity of a small M dwarf sample. Methods. We obtained large numbers of HARPS spectra for the M dwarfs GJ 3138, GJ 3323, GJ 273, GJ 628 and GJ 3293, from which we derived radial velocities (RVs) and spectroscopic activity indicators. We searched them for variabilities, periodicities, Keplerian modulations and correlations, and attribute the radial-velocity variations to combinations of planetary companions and stellar activity. Results. We detect 12 planets, of which 9 are new with masses ranging from 1.17 to 10.5 Mearth . Those planets have relatively short orbital periods (P<40 d), except two of them with periods of 217.6 and 257.8 days. Among these systems, GJ 273 harbor two planets with masses close to the one of the Earth. With a distance of 3.8 parsec only, GJ 273 is the second nearest known planetary system – after Proxima Centauri – with a planet orbiting the circumstellar habitable zone.

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N. Astudillo-Defru, T. Forveille, X. Bonfils, et. al.
Fri, 17 Mar 17

Comments: 19 pages, 24 figures. Accepted for publication in Astronomy and Astrophysics

Searching for planetary signals in Doppler time series: a performance evaluation of tools for periodograms analysis [EPA]


We carry out a comparative analysis of the performance of three algorithms widely used to identify significant periodicities in radial-velocity (RV) datasets: the Generalised Lomb-Scargle Periodogram (GLS), its modified version based on Bayesian statistics (BGLS), and the multi-frequency periodogram scheme called FREquency DEComposer (FREDEC). We apply the algorithms to a suite of numerical simulations of (single and multiple) low-amplitude Keplerian RV signals induced by low-mass companions around M-dwarf primaries. The global performance of the three period search approaches is quite similar in the limit of an idealized, best-case scenario (single planets, circular orbits, white noise). However, GLS, BGLS and FREDEC are not equivalent when it comes to the correct identification of more complex signals (including correlated noise of stellar origin, eccentric orbits, multiple planets), with variable degrees of efficiency loss as a function of system parameters and degradation in completeness and reliability levels. The largest discrepancy is recorded in the number of false detections: the standard approach of residual analyses adopted for GLS and BGLS translates in large fractions of false alarms ($\sim30\%$) in the case of multiple systems, as opposed to $\sim10\%$ for the FREDEC approach of simultaneous multi-frequency search. Our results reinforce the need for the strengthening and further development of the most aggressive and effective {\it ab initio} strategies for the robust identification of low-amplitude planetary signals in RV datasets, particularly now that RV surveys are beginning to achieve sensitivity to potentially habitable Earth-mass planets around late-type stars.

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M. Pinamonti, A. Sozzetti, A. Bonomo, et. al.
Thu, 16 Mar 17

Comments: 11 pages, 10 figures

A new insight into the Galactic potential: A simple secular model for the evolution of binary systems in the solar neighbourhood [EPA]


Context. Among the main effects that the Milky Way exerts in binary systems, the Galactic tide is the only one that is not probabilistic and can be deduced from a potential. Therefore, it is possible to perform an analysis of the global structure of the phase space of binary systems in the solar neighbourhood using the Galactic potential. Aims. The aim of this work is to obtain a simple model to study the collisionless dynamical evolution of generic wide binaries systems in the solar neighbourhood. Methods. Through an averaging process, we reduced the three-dimensional potential of the Galaxy to a secular one-degree of freedom model. The accuracy of this model was tested by comparing its predictions with numerical simulations of the exact equations of motion of a two-body problem disturbed by the Galaxy. Results. Using the one-degree of freedom model, we developed a detailed dynamical study, finding that the secular Galactic tide period changes as a function of the separation of the pair, which also gives a dynamical explanation for the arbitrary classification between “wide” and “tight” binaries. Moreover, the secular phase space for a generic gravitationally bound pair is similar to the dynamical structure of a Lidov-Kozai resonance, but surprisingly this structure is independent of the masses and semimajor axis of the binary system. Thus, the Galactic potential is able to excite the initially circular orbit of binary systems to high values of eccentricity, which has important implications for studies of binary star systems (with and without exoplanets), comets, and Oort cloud objects.

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J. Correa-Otto, M. Calandra and R. Gil-Hutton
Thu, 16 Mar 17

Comments: 16 pages, 17 figures, acepted to published in A&A

CO$_2$ condensation is a serious limit to the deglaciation of Earth-like planets [EPA]


It is widely believed that the carbonate-silicate cycle is the main agent to trigger deglaciations by CO$_2$ greenhouse warming on Earth and on Earth-like planets when they get in frozen state. Here we use a 3D Global Climate Model to simulate the ability of frozen planets to escape from glaciation by accumulating enough gaseous CO$_2$.
We find that Earth-like planets orbiting a Sun-like star may never be able to escape from glaciation if their orbital distance is greater than $\sim$ 1.27 AU (Flux $<$ 847 W m$^{-2}$), because CO$_2$ would condense at the poles forming permanent CO$_2$ ice caps. This limits the amount of CO$_2$ in the atmosphere and thus its greenhouse effect.
The amount of CO$_2$ that can be trapped in the polar caps depends on the efficiency of CO$_2$ ice to flow laterally as well as its graviational stability relative to subsurface water ice.
The flow of CO$_2$ ice from poles to equator is mostly controlled by the bottom temperature, and hence by the internal heat flux. We find that a frozen Earth-like planet located at 1.30 AU of a Sun-like star could store as much as 1.5/4.5/15 bars of dry ice at the poles, for internal heat fluxes of 100/30/10 mW m$^{-2}$.
But these amounts are lower limits. For planets with a significant water ice cover, we show that CO$_2$ ice deposits should be gravitationnally unstable. They get burried beneath the water ice cover in short timescales of 10$^2$-10$^3$ yrs, mainly controlled by the viscosity of water ice. For water ice cover exceeding about 300 m, we show that the CO$_2$ would be permanently sequestred underneath the water ice cover, in the form of CO$_2$ liquids, CO$_2$ clathrate hydrates and/or dissolved in subglacial water reservoirs (if any). This would considerably increase the amount of CO$_2$ trapped and further reduce the probability of deglaciation.

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M. Turbet, F. Forget, J. Leconte, et. al.
Thu, 16 Mar 17

Comments: Submitted – Comments are welcome

Petrographic and geochemical evidence for multiphase formation of carbonates in the Martian orthopyroxenite Allan Hills 84001 [EPA]


Martian meteorites can provide valuable information about past environmental conditions on Mars. Allan Hills 84001 formed more than 4 Gyr ago, and owing to its age and long exposure to the Martian environment, this meteorite has features that may record early processes. These features include a highly fractured texture, gases trapped during one or more impact events or during formation of the rock, and spherical Fe-Mg-Ca carbonates. Here we have concentrated on providing new insights into the context of these carbonates using a range of techniques to explore whether they record multiple precipitation and shock events. The petrographic features and compositional properties of these carbonates indicate that at least two pulses of Mg- and Fe-rich solutions saturated the rock. Those two generations of carbonates can be distinguished by a very sharp change in compositions, from being rich in Mg and poor in Fe and Mn, to being poor in Mg and rich in Fe and Mn. Between these two generations of carbonate is evidence for fracturing and local corrosion.

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C. Moyano-Cambero, J. Trigo-Rodriguez, M. Benito, et. al.
Tue, 14 Mar 17

Comments: 30 pages, 11 figures, and 3 tables, Meteoritics & Planetary Science (2017)

A terrestrial-sized exoplanet at the snow line of TRAPPIST-1 [EPA]


The TRAPPIST-1 system is the first transiting planet system found orbiting an ultra-cool dwarf star. At least seven planets similar to Earth in radius and in mass were previously found to transit this host star. Subsequently, TRAPPIST-1 was observed as part of the K2 mission and, with these new data, we report the measurement of an 18.764 d orbital period for the outermost planet, TRAPPIST-1h, which was unconstrained until now. This value matches our theoretical expectations based on Laplace relations and places TRAPPIST-1h as the seventh member of a complex chain, with three-body resonances linking every member. We find that TRAPPIST-1h has a radius of 0.715 Earth radii and an equilibrium temperature of 169 K, placing it at the snow line. We have also measured the rotational period of the star at 3.3 d and detected a number of flares consistent with an active, middle-aged, late M dwarf.

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R. Luger, M. Sestovic, E. Kruse, et. al.
Tue, 14 Mar 17

Comments: 36 pages, 8 figure, 2 tables. Submitted to Nat. Astron. on 3/10/2017

Thermochemistry and vertical mixing in the tropospheres of Uranus and Neptune: How convection inhibition can affect the derivation of deep oxygen abundances [EPA]


Thermochemical models have been used in the past to constrain the deep oxygen abundance in the gas and ice giant planets from tropospheric CO spectroscopic measurements. Knowing the oxygen abundance of these planets is a key to better understand their formation. These models have widely used dry and/or moist adiabats to extrapolate temperatures from the measured values in the upper troposphere down to the level where the thermochemical equilibrium between H$_2$O and CO is established. The mean molecular mass gradient produced by the condensation of H$_2$O stabilizes the atmosphere against convection and results in a vertical thermal profile and H$_2$O distribution that departs significantly from previous estimates. We revisit O/H estimates using an atmospheric structure that accounts for the inhibition of the convection by condensation. We use a thermochemical network and the latest observations of CO in Uranus and Neptune to calculate the internal oxygen enrichment required to satisfy both these new estimates of the thermal profile and the observations. We also present the current limitations of such modeling.

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T. Cavalie, O. Venot, F. Selsis, et. al.
Tue, 14 Mar 17

Comments: 33 pages, 11 figures, accepted for publication in Icarus (2017)

Impact of radiogenic heating on the formation conditions of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko [EPA]


Because of the high fraction of refractory material present in comets, the heat produced by the radiogenic decay of elements such as aluminium and iron can be high enough to induce the loss of ultravolatile species such as nitrogen, argon or carbon monoxide during their accretion phase in the protosolar nebula. Here, we investigate how heat generated by the radioactive decay of 26Al and 60Fe influences the formation of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, as a function of its accretion time and size of parent body. We use an existing thermal evolution model that includes various phase transitions, heat transfer in the ice-dust matrix, and gas diffusion throughout the porous material, based on thermodynamic parameters derived from Rosetta observations. Two possibilities are considered: either, to account for its bilobate shape, 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko was assembled from two primordial ~2 kilometer-sized planetesimals, or it resulted from the disruption of a larger parent body with a size corresponding to that of comet Hale-Bopp (~70 km). To fully preserve its volatile content, we find that either 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko’s formation was delayed between ~2.2 and 7.7 Myr after that of Ca-Al-rich Inclusions in the protosolar nebula or the comet’s accretion phase took place over the entire time interval, depending on the primordial size of its parent body and the composition of the icy material considered. Our calculations suggest that the formation of 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is consistent with both its accretion from primordial building blocks formed in the nebula or from debris issued from the disruption of a Hale-Bopp-like body.

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O. Mousis, A. Drouard, P. Vernazza, et. al.
Tue, 14 Mar 17

Comments: Accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal Letters

Search for giant planets in M67 IV: survey results [EPA]


We present the results of a seven-year-long radial velocity survey of a sample of 88 main-sequence and evolved stars to reveal signatures of Jupiter-mass planets in the solar-age and solar-metallicity open cluster M67. We aim at studying the frequency of giant planets in this cluster with respect to the field stars. In addition, our sample is also ideal to perform a long-term study to compare the chemical composition of stars with and without giant planets in detail. We analyzed precise radial velocity (RV) measurements obtained with five different instruments. We conducted Monte Carlo simulations to estimate the occurrence rate of giant planets in our radial velocity survey. All the planets previously announced in this RV campaign with their properties are summarized here: 3 hot Jupiters around the main-sequence stars YBP1194, YBP1514, and YBP401, and 1 giant planet around the evolved star S364. Two additional planet candidates around the stars YBP778 and S978 are also analyzed in the present work. We discuss stars that exhibit large RV variability or trends individually. For 2 additional stars, long-term trends are compatible with new binary candidates or substellar objects, which increases the total number of binary candidates detected in our campaign to 14. Based on the Doppler-detected planets discovered in this survey, we find an occurrence of giant planets of ~18.0%(+12.0/-8.0%) in the selected period-mass range. This frequency is slightly higher but consistent within the errors with the estimate for the field stars, which leads to the general conclusion that open cluster and field statistics agree. However, we find that the rate of hot Jupiters in the cluster (~5.7%(+5.5/-3.0%)) is substantially higher than in the field.

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A. Brucalassi, J. Koppenhoefer, R. Saglia, et. al.
Tue, 14 Mar 17

Comments: Accepted by A&A

Statistical Analysis of Astrometric Errors for the Most Productive Asteroid Surveys [EPA]


We performed a statistical analysis of the astrometric errors for the major asteroid surveys. We analyzed the astrometric residuals as a function of observation epoch, observed brightness and rate of motion, finding that astrometric errors are larger for faint observations and some stations improved their astrometric quality over time. Based on this statistical analysis we develop a new weighting scheme to be used when performing asteroid orbit determination. The proposed weights result in ephemeris predictions that can be conservative by a factor as large as 1.5. However, the new scheme is more robust with respect to outliers and better handles faint detections.

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P. Veres, D. Farnocchia, S. Chesley, et. al.
Mon, 13 Mar 17

Comments: 25 pages, 11 figures, 5 tables

Orbital Evolution of Moons in Weakly Accreting Circumplanetary Disks [EPA]


We investigate the formation of hot and massive circumplanetary disks (CPDs) and the orbital evolution of satellites formed in these disks. Because of the comparatively small size-scale of the sub-disk, quick magnetic diffusion prevents the magnetorotational instability (MRI) from being well-developed at ionization levels that would allow MRI in the parent protoplanetary disk. In the absence of significant angular momentum transport, continuous mass supply from the parental protoplanetary disk leads to the formation of a massive CPD. We have developed an evolutionary model for this scenario and have estimated the orbital evolution of satellites within the disk. We find, in a certain temperature range, that inward migration of a satellite can be stopped by a change in the structure due to the opacity transitions. Moreover, by capturing second and third migrating satellites in mean motion resonances, a compact system in Laplace resonance can be formed in our disk models.

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Y. Fujii, H. Kobayashi, S. Takahashi, et. al.
Mon, 13 Mar 17

Comments: 10 pages, 9 figures, accepted for AJ

Eclipse, transit and occultation geometry of planetary systems at exo-syzygy [EPA]


Although conjunctions and oppositions frequently occur in planetary systems, eclipse-related phenomena are usually described from an Earth-centric perspective. Space missions to different parts of the Solar system, as well as the mounting number of known exo-planets in habitable zones and the possibility of sending featherweight robot spacecraft to them, prompt broader considerations. Here, we derive the geometry of eclipses, transits and occultations from a primarily exo-Earth viewpoint, and apply the formulation to the Solar system and three types of three-body extrasolar planetary systems: with 1 star and 2 planets (Case I), with 2 stars and 1 planet (Case II), and with 1 planet, 1 star and 1 moon (Case III). We derive the general conditions for total, partial and annular eclipses to occur at exo-syzygy, and implement them in each case in concert with stability criteria. We then apply the formalism to the TRAPPIST-1, Kepler-444 and Kepler-77 systems — the first of which contains multiple potentially habitable planets — and provide reference tables of both Solar system and TRAPPIST-1 syzygy properties. We conclude by detailing a basic algebraic algorithm which can be used to quickly characterize eclipse properties in any three-body system.

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D. Veras and E. Breedt
Mon, 13 Mar 17

Comments: Accepted for publication in MNRAS

Mass, Density, and Formation Constraints in the Compact, Sub-Earth Kepler-444 System including Two Mars-Mass Planets [EPA]


Kepler-444 is a five planet system around a host-star approximately 11 billion years old. The five transiting planets all have sub-Earth radii and are in a compact configuration with orbital periods between 3 and 10 days. Here we present a transit-timing analysis of the system using the full Kepler data set in order to determine the masses of the planets. Two planets, Kepler-444 d ($M_\mathrm{d}=0.036^{+0.065}_{-0.020}M_\oplus$) and Kepler-444 e ($M_\mathrm{e}=0.034^{+0.059}_{-0.019}M_\oplus $), have confidently detected masses due to their proximity to resonance which creates transit timing variations. The mass ratio of these planets combined with the magnitude of possible star-planet tidal effects suggests that smooth disk migration over a significant distance is unlikely to have brought the system to its currently observed orbital architecture without significant post-formation perturbations.

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S. Mills and D. Fabrycky
Mon, 13 Mar 17

Comments: Accepted for publication in ApJL

Fast evaluation of quadrupole and hexadecapole approximations in microlensing with a single point-source [EPA]


The exoplanet detection rate from gravitational microlensing has grown significantly in recent years thanks to a great enhancement of resources and improved observational strategy. Current observatories include ground-based wide-field and/or robotic world-wide networks of telescopes, as well as space-based observatories such satellites Spitzer or Kepler/K2. This results in a large quantity of data to be processed and analyzed, which is a challenge for modeling codes because of the complexity of the parameter space to be explored, and the intensive computations required to evaluate the models. In this work, I present a method that allows to compute the quadrupole and hexadecapole approximation of the finite-source magnification with more efficiency that previously available codes, with routines about x6 and x4 faster respectively. The quadrupole takes just about twice the time of a point-source evaluation, which advocates for generalizing its use to large portion of the light curves. The corresponding routines are available as open-source python codes.

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A. Cassan
Mon, 13 Mar 17

Comments: 7 pages, 2 figures, submitted to MNRAS

Breaking the Chains: Hot Super-Earth systems from migration and disruption of compact resonant chains [EPA]


“Hot super-Earths” (or “Mini-Neptunes”) between 1 and 4 times Earth’s size with period shorter than 100 days orbit 30-50\% of Sun-like type stars. Their orbital configuration — measured as the period ratio distribution of adjacent planets in multi-planet systems — is a strong constraint for formation models. Here we use N-body simulations with synthetic forces from an underlying evolving gaseous disk to model the formation and long-term dynamical evolution of super-Earth systems. While the gas disk is present, planetary embryos grow and migrate inward to form a resonant chain anchored at the inner edge of the disk. These resonant chains are far more compact than the observed super-Earth systems. Once the gas dissipates resonant chains may become dynamically unstable. They undergo a phase of giant impacts that spreads the systems out. Disk turbulence has no measurable effect on the outcome. Our simulations match observations if a small fraction of resonant chains remain stable, while most super-Earths undergo a late dynamical instability. Our statistical analysis restricts the contribution of stable systems to less than $25\%$. Our results also suggest that the large fraction of observed single planet systems does not necessarily imply any dichotomy in the architecture of planetary systems. Finally, we use the low abundance of resonances in Kepler data to argue that, in reality, the survival of resonant chains happens likely only in $\sim 5\%$ of the cases. This leads to a mystery: in our simulations only 50-60\% of resonant chains became unstable whereas at least 75\% (and probably 90-95\%) must be unstable to match observations.

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A. Izidoro, M. Ogihara, S. Raymond, et. al.
Mon, 13 Mar 17

Comments: Submitted to MNRAS – Comments are welcome

Evidence for a planetary mass third body orbiting the binary star KIC 5095269 [EPA]


In this paper, we report the evidence for a planetary mass body orbiting the close binary star KIC 5095269. This detection arose from a search for eclipse timing variations among the more than 2,000 eclipsing binaries observed by Kepler. Light curve and periodic eclipse time variations have been analysed using Systemic and a custom Binary Eclipse Timings code based on the Transit Analysis Package which indicates a $7.70\pm0.08M_{Jup}$ object orbiting every $237.7\pm0.1d$ around a $1.2M_\odot$ primary and $0.51M_\odot$ secondary in an 18.6d orbit. A dynamical integration over $10^7$ years suggests a stable orbital configuration. Radial velocity observations are recommended to confirm the properties of the binary star components and the planetary mass of the companion.

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A. Getley, B. Carter, R. King, et. al.
Mon, 13 Mar 17

Comments: 8 pages, 7 figures, Accepted for publication in MNRAS

The Influences of Forming Companions on the Spectral Energy Distributions of Stars with Circumstellar Discs [EPA]


We study a possibility to detect signatures of brown dwarf companions in a circumstellar disc based on spectral energy distributions (SED). We present the results of SED simulations for a system with a 0.8 $M_{\odot}$ central object and a companion with a mass of 30 $M_J$ embedded in a typical protoplanetary disc. We use a solution to the one-dimensional radiative transfer equation to calculate the protoplanetary disc flux density and assume, that the companion moves along a circular orbit and clears a gap. The width of the gap is assumed to be the diameter of the brown dwarf Hill sphere. Our modelling shows that the presence of such a gap can initiate an additional minimum in the SED profile of a protoplanetary disc at $\lambda = 10 – 100$ $\mu$m. We show that the depth of this minimum and the wavelength of the maximum difference between the SEDs of the system with and without a companion are related to the companion mass and its proximity to the star. We found that it is possible to detect signatures of the companion when it is located within 10 AU, even when it is as small as 3 $M_J$. We also analyse how the disc parameters (the inner radius and the temperature profile) change the maximum difference between the SEDs for the same systems with and without a companion. The SED of a protostellar disc with a massive fragment might have a similar double peaked profile to the SED of a more evolved disc that contains a gap. However, in this case, it will be caused by the presence of an additional maximum at shorter wavelengths and will be similar only when the massive fragment is relatively cold ($\sim$400 K).

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O. Zakhozhay
Fri, 10 Mar 17

Comments: Accepted for publication in PASA

Impact Erosion Model for Gravity-Dominated Planetesimals [EPA]


Disruptive collisions have been regarded as an important process for planet formation, while non-disruptive, small-scale collisions (hereafter called erosive collisions) have been underestimated or neglected by many studies. However, recent studies have suggested that erosive collisions are also important to the growth of planets, because they are much more frequent than disruptive collisions. Although the thresholds of the specific impact energy for disruptive collisions (Q_RD^*) have been investigated well, there is no reliable model for erosive collisions. In this study, we systematically carried out impact simulations of gravity-dominated planetesimals for a wide range of specific impact energy (Q_R) from disruptive collisions (Q_R ~ Q_RD^*) to erosive ones (Q_R << Q_RD^*) using the smoothed particle hydrodynamics method. We found that the ejected mass normalized by the total mass (M_ej/M_tot) depends on the numerical resolution, the target radius (R_tar) and the impact velocity (v_imp), as well as on Q_R, but that it can be nicely scaled by Q_RD^* for the parameter ranges investigated (R_tar = 30-300 km, v_imp = 2-5 km/s). This means that M_ej/M_tot depends only on Q_R/Q_RD^* in these parameter ranges. We confirmed that the collision outcomes for much less erosive collisions (Q_R < 0.01 Q_RD^*) converge to the results of an impact onto a planar target for various impact angles and that M_ej/M_tot = C * QR/QRD* holds. For disruptive collisions (Q_R ~ Q_RD^*), the curvature of the target has a significant effect on Mej/Mtot. We also examined the angle-averaged value of M_ej/M_tot and found that the numerically obtained relation between angle-averaged M_ej/M_tot and Q_R/Q_RD^* is very similar to the cases for 45-degree impacts. We proposed a new erosion model based on our numerical simulations for future research on planet formation with collisional erosion.

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H. Genda, T. Fujita, H. Kobayashi, et. al.
Fri, 10 Mar 17

Comments: Accepted for publication in Icarus, 41 pages, 16 figures

Thermally induced stresses in boulders on airless body surfaces, and implications for rock breakdown [EPA]


This work investigates the macroscopic thermomechanical behavior of lunar boulders by modeling their response to diurnal thermal forcing. Our results reveal a bimodal, spatiotemporally-complex stress response. During sunrise, stresses occur in the boulders’ interiors that are associated with large-scale temperature gradients developed due to overnight cooling. During sunset, stresses occur at the boulders’ exteriors due to the cooling and contraction of the surface. Both kinds of stresses are on the order of 10 MPa in 1 m boulders and decrease for smaller diameters, suggesting that larger boulders break down more quickly. Boulders <30 cm exhibit a weak response to thermal forcing, suggesting a threshold below which crack propagation may not occur. Boulders of any size buried by regolith are shielded from thermal breakdown. As boulders increase in size (>1 m), stresses increase to several 10s of MPa as the behavior of their surfaces approaches that of an infinite halfspace. As the thermal wave loses contact with the boulder interior, stresses become limited to the near-surface. This suggests that the survival time of a boulder is not only controlled by the amplitude of induced stress, but also by its diameter as compared to the diurnal skin depth. While stresses on the order of 10 MPa are enough to drive crack propagation in terrestrial environments, crack propagation rates in vacuum are not well constrained. We explore the relationship between boulder size, stress, and the direction of crack propagation, and discuss the implications for the relative breakdown rates and estimated lifetimes of boulders on airless body surfaces.

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J. Molaro, S. Byrne and J. Le
Fri, 10 Mar 17

Comments: 31 pages, 12 figures

Integral Field Spectroscopy of the Low-Mass Companion HD984B with the Gemini Planet Imager [EPA]


We present new observations of the low-mass companion to HD 984 taken with the Gemini Planet Imager as a part of the Gemini Planet Imager Exoplanet Survey campaign. Images of HD 984 B were obtained in the J (1.12–1.3 micron) and H (1.50–1.80 micron) bands. Combined with archival epochs from 2012 and 2014, we fit the first orbit to the companion to find an 18 AU (70 year) orbit with a 68% confidence interval between 14 and 28 AU, an eccentricity of 0.18 with a 68% confidence interval between 0.05 and 0.47, and an inclination of 119 degrees with a 68% confidence interval between 114 degrees and 125 degrees. To address considerable spectral covariance in both spectra, we present a method of splitting the spectra into low and high frequencies to analyze the spectral structure at different spatial frequencies with the proper spectral noise correlation. Using the split spectra, we compare to known spectral types using field brown dwarf and low-mass star spectra and find a best fit match of a field gravity M6.5+/-1.5 spectral type with a corresponding temperature of 2730+120 K. Photometry of the companion yields a luminosity of log(L_bol/L_sun) = -2.88+/-0.07 dex, using DUSTY models. Mass estimates, again from DUSTY models, find an age-dependent mass of 34+/-1 to 95+/-4 M_Jup. These results are consistent with previous measurements of the object.

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M. Johnson-Groh, C. Marois, R. Rosa, et. al.
Thu, 9 Mar 17

Comments: Accepted for publication in The Astronomical Journal

Exoplanet Characterization by Multi-Observatory Transit Photometry with TESS and CHEOPS [EPA]


Space-based photometric surveys have discovered large numbers of planets transiting other stars, but these observe in a single band-pass and yield only the planet radius, orbital period, and transit duration. Information on the masses, compositions, and any atmospheres of these planets requires additional observations from the ground or space. The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) will yield thousands of planets around bright stars suitable for such follow-up. In the absence of spectroscopy or spectrophotometry from space, observations through the different pass-bands of multiple space telescopes provide some spectral information useful for identifying false positive signals, distinguishing between reflected light and thermal emission from hot Jupiters, and detecting Rayleigh scattering by planetary atmospheres. We calculated the expected difference in transit depths measured by the TESS and Characterizing Exoplanets Satellites (CHEOPS) missions, which will be more sensitive to redder and bluer optical wavelengths, respectively. The difference due to companion or background stars is small (<3% for main sequence companions) and likely to be negligible and undetectable. For only a few “hot” Jupiters, can combined photometry disambiguate between the reflected and thermal signals from planets. However, Rayleigh scattering by hazy atmospheres with particles sizes near 0.04 $\mu$m and at pressure altitudes above ~1 mbar can be detected for ~100 transiting planets, assuming every planet has such an atmosphere. Hazes with this characteristic particle size do not obscure observations at longer (near-infrared) wavelengths; CHEOPS follow-up of TESS-detected planets could thus identify candidates suitable for further study with the James Webb Space Telescope.

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E. Gaidos, D. Kitzmann and K. Heng
Thu, 9 Mar 17

Comments: MNRAS, in press

The Spherical Bolometric Albedo of Planet Mercury [EPA]


Published reflectance data covering several different wavelength intervals has been combined and analyzed in order to determine the spherical bolometric albedo of Mercury. The resulting value of 0.088 +/- 0.003 spans wavelengths from 0 to 4 {\mu}m which includes over 99% of the solar flux. This bolometric result is greater than the value determined between 0.43 and 1.01 {\mu}m by Domingue et al. (2011, Planet. Space Sci., 59, 1853-1872). The difference is due to higher reflectivity at wavelengths beyond 1.01 {\mu}m. The average effective blackbody temperature of Mercury corresponding to the newly determined albedo is 436.3 K. This temperature takes into account the eccentricity of the planet’s orbit (M\’endez and Rivera-Valet\’in. 2017. ApJL, 837, L1).

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A. Mallama
Thu, 9 Mar 17

Comments: 20 pages, 5 figures, 1 table

Exozodiacal clouds: Hot and warm dust around main sequence stars [EPA]


A warm/hot dust component (at temperature $>$ 300K) has been detected around $\sim$ 20% of stars. This component is called “exozodiacal dust” as it presents similarities with the zodiacal dust detected in our Solar System, even though its physical properties and spatial distribution can be significantly different. Understanding the origin and evolution of this dust is of crucial importance, not only because its presence could hamper future detections of Earth-like planets in their habitable zones, but also because it can provide invaluable information about the inner regions of planetary systems. In this review, we present a detailed overview of the observational techniques used in the detection and characterisation of exozodiacal dust clouds (“exozodis”) and the results they have yielded so far, in particular regarding the incidence rate of exozodis as a function of crucial parameters such as stellar type and age, or the presence of an outer cold debris disc. We also present the important constraints that have been obtained, on dust size distribution and spatial location, by using state-of-the-art radiation transfer models on some of these systems. Finally, we investigate the crucial issue of how to explain the presence of exozodiacal dust around so many stars (regardless of their ages) despite the fact that such dust so close to its host star should disappear rapidly due to the coupled effect of collisions and stellar radiation pressure. Several potential mechanisms have been proposed to solve this paradox and are reviewed in detail in this paper. The review finishes by presenting the future of this growing field.

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Q. Kral, A. Krivov, D. Defrere, et. al.
Thu, 9 Mar 17

Comments: submitted to Astronomical Review

Evidence for abnormal H$α$ variability during near-transit observations of HD 189733 b [EPA]


Changes in levels of stellar activity can mimic absorption signatures in transmission spectra from circumplanetary material. The frequency and magnitude of these changes is thus important to understand in order to attribute any particular signal to the circumplanetary environment. We present short-cadence, high-resolution out-of-transit H$\alpha$ spectra for the hot Jupiter host HD 189733 in order to establish the frequency and magnitude of intrinsic stellar variations in the H$\alpha$ line core. We find that changes in the line core strength similar to those observed immediately pre- and post-transit in two independent data sets are uncommon. This suggests that the observed near-transit signatures are either due to absorbing circumplanetary material or occur preferentially in time very near planetary transits. In either case, the evidence for abnormal H$\alpha$ variability is strengthened, although the short-cadence out-of-transit data do not argue for circumplanetary absorption versus stellar activity caused by a star-planet interaction. Further out-of-transit monitoring at higher signal-to-noise would be useful to more strictly constrain the frequency of the near-transit changes in the H$\alpha$ line core.

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P. Cauley, S. Redfield and A. Jensen
Thu, 9 Mar 17

Comments: 9 pages, 8 figures, accepted to AJ on 03/06/2017

Probing the atmosphere of a sub-Jovian planet orbiting a cool dwarf [EPA]


We derive the 0.01 $\mu$m binned transmission spectrum, between 0.74 and 1.0 $\mu$m, of WASP-80b from low resolution spectra obtained with the FORS2 instrument attached to ESO’s Very Large Telescope. The combination of the fact that WASP-80 is an active star, together with instrumental and telluric factors, introduces correlated noise in the observed transit light curves, which we treat quantitatively using Gaussian Processes. Comparison of our results together with those from previous studies, to theoretically calculated models reveals an equilibrium temperature in agreement with the previously measured value of 825K, and a sub-solar metallicity, as well as an atmosphere depleted of molecular species with absorption bands in the IR ($\gg 5\sigma$). Our transmission spectrum alone shows evidence for additional absorption from the potassium core and wing, whereby its presence is detected from analysis of narrow 0.003 $\mu$m bin light curves ($\gg 5\sigma$). Further observations with visible and near-UV filters will be required to expand this spectrum and provide more in-depth knowledge of the atmosphere. These detections are only made possible through an instrument-dependent baseline model and a careful analysis of systematics in the data.

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E. Sedaghati, H. Boffin, L. Delrez, et. al.
Thu, 9 Mar 17

Comments: 13 pages, 11 figures, 3 tables. Submitted to MNRAS. Version after the first review

The Effect of Multiple Heat Sources on Exomoon Habitable Zones [EPA]


With dozens of Jovian and super-Jovian exoplanets known to orbit their host stars in or near the stellar habitable zones, it has recently been suggested that moons the size of Mars could offer abundant surface habitats beyond the solar system. Several searches for such exomoons are now underway, and the exquisite astronomical data quality of upcoming space missions and ground-based extremely large telescopes could make the detection and characterization of exomoons possible in the near future. Here we explore the effects of tidal heating on the potential of Mars- to Earth-sized satellites to host liquid surface water, and we compare the tidal heating rates predicted by tidal equilibrium model and a viscoelastic model. In addition to tidal heating, we consider stellar radiation, planetary illumination and thermal heat from the planet. However, the effects of a possible moon atmosphere are neglected. We map the circumplanetary habitable zone for different stellar distances in specific star-planet-satellite configurations, and determine those regions where tidal heating dominates over stellar radiation. We find that the `thermostat effect’ of the viscoelastic model is significant not just at large distances from the star, but also in the stellar habitable zone, where stellar radiation is prevalent. We also find that tidal heating of Mars-sized moons with eccentricities between 0.001 and 0.01 is the dominant energy source beyond 3–5 AU from a Sun-like star and beyond 0.4–0.6 AU from an M3 dwarf star. The latter would be easier to detect (if they exist), but their orbital stability might be under jeopardy due to the gravitational perturbations from the star.

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V. Dobos, R. Heller and E. Turner
Wed, 8 Mar 17

Comments: accepted for publication in A&A, 8 pages, 4 figures

Assessment of different formation scenarios for the ring system of (10199) Chariklo [EPA]


The discovery that the centaur (10199) Chariklo possesses a ring system opens questions about their origin. We here asses the plausibility of different scenarios for the origin of the observed ring system. We first consider the possibility that the material of the ring originated in the disruption of a satellite that had reached a critical distance from the centaur. We discuss the conditions for the putative satellite to approach the centaur as a consequence of tidal interaction. A three-body encounter is also considered as a transport mechanism. In addition, we study the case in which the ring is formed by the ejecta of a cratering collision on the centaur and we constrain the collision parameters and the size of the resulting crater of the event. Finally, we consider that the ring material originates from a catastrophic collision between a background object and a satellite located at a distance corresponding to the the current location of the ring. We compute the typical timescales for these scenarios. We estimate that in order to be tidally disrupted a satellite would have had to be larger than approximately 6.5 km at the location of the rings. However the tidal interaction is rather weak for objects of the size of outer solar system bodies at the ring location, therefore we considered other more effective mechanisms by which a satellite migt have approached the centaur. Collisonal scenarios are both physically plausible for the formation, but semianalytical estimations indicate that the probability of the corresponding collisions is low under current conditions

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M. Melita, R. Duffard, J. Ortiz, et. al.
Wed, 8 Mar 17

Comments: N/A

Transiting Planets with LSST III: Detection Rate per Year of Operation [EPA]


The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) will generate light curves for approximately 1 billion stars. Our previous work has demonstrated that, by the end of the LSST 10 year mission, large numbers of transiting exoplanetary systems could be recovered using the LSST “deep drilling” cadence. Here we extend our previous work to examine how the recoverability of transiting planets over a range of orbital periods and radii evolves per year of LSST operation. As specific example systems we consider hot Jupiters orbiting solar-type stars and hot Neptunes orbiting K-Dwarfs at distances from Earth of several kpc, as well as super-Earths orbiting nearby low-mass M-dwarfs. The detection of transiting planets increases steadily with the accumulation of data over time, generally becoming large (greater than 10 percent) after 4 – 6 years of operation. However, we also find that short-period (less than 2 day) hot Jupiters orbiting G-dwarfs and hot Neptunes orbiting K-dwarfs can already be discovered within the first 1 – 2 years of LSST operation.

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S. Jacklin, M. Lund, J. Pepper, et. al.
Wed, 8 Mar 17

Comments: 6 pages, 1 table, 8 figures, Accepted for publication in the Astronomical Journal

Two massive rocky planets transiting a K-dwarf 6.5 parsecs away [EPA]


HD 219134 is a K-dwarf star at a distance of 6.5 parsecs around which several low-mass planets were recently discovered. The Spitzer space telescope detected a transit of the innermost of these planets, HD 219134 b, whose mass and radius (4.5 MEarth and 1.6 REarth respectively) are consistent with a rocky composition. Here, we report new highprecision time-series photometry of the star acquired with Spitzer revealing that the second innermost planet of the system, HD 219134 c, is also transiting. A global analysis of the Spitzer transit light curves and the most up-to-date HARPS-N velocity data set yields mass and radius estimations of 4.74+-0.19 MEarth and 1.602+-0.055 REarth for HD 219134 b, and of 4.36+-0.22 MEarth and 1.511+-0.047 REarth for HD 219134 c. These values suggest rocky compositions for both planets. Thanks to the proximity and the small size of their host star (0.778+-0.005 Rsun), these two transiting exoplanets – the nearest to the Earth to date – are well-suited for a detailed characterization (precision of a few percent on mass and radius, constraints on the atmospheric properties…) that could give important constraints on the nature and formation mechanism of the ubiquitous short-period planets of a few Earth masses.

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M. Gillon, B. Demory, V. Grootel, et. al.
Tue, 7 Mar 17

Comments: 16 pages

Seven temperate terrestrial planets around the nearby ultracool dwarf star TRAPPIST-1 [EPA]


One focus of modern astronomy is to detect temperate terrestrial exoplanets well-suited for atmospheric characterisation. A milestone was recently achieved with the detection of three Earth-sized planets transiting (i.e. passing in front of) a star just 8% the mass of the Sun 12 parsecs away. Indeed, the transiting configuration of these planets with the Jupiter-like size of their host star – named TRAPPIST-1 – makes possible in-depth studies of their atmospheric properties with current and future astronomical facilities. Here we report the results of an intensive photometric monitoring campaign of that star from the ground and with the Spitzer Space Telescope. Our observations reveal that at least seven planets with sizes and masses similar to the Earth revolve around TRAPPIST-1. The six inner planets form a near-resonant chain such that their orbital periods (1.51, 2.42, 4.04, 6.06, 9.21, 12.35 days) are near ratios of small integers. This architecture suggests that the planets formed farther from the star and migrated inward. The seven planets have equilibrium temperatures low enough to make possible liquid water on their surfaces.

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M. Gillon, A. Triaud, B. Demory, et. al.
Tue, 7 Mar 17

Comments: 27 pages

Discovery of a satellite of the large trans-Neptunian object (225088) 2007OR10 [EPA]


2007OR10 is currently the third largest known dwarf planet in the transneptunian region, with an effective radiometric diameter of ~1535 km. It has a slow rotation period of ~45 h that was suspected to be caused by tidal interactions with a satellite undetected at that time. Here we report on the discovery of a likely moon of 2007OR10, identified on archival Hubble Space Telescope WFC3/UVIS system images. Although the satellite is detected at two epochs, this does not allow an unambiguous determination of the orbit and the orbital period. A feasible 1.5-5.8×10^21 kg estimate for the system mass leads to a likely 35 to 100 d orbital period. The moon is about 4.2m fainter than 2007OR10 in HST images that corresponds to a diameter of 237 km assuming equal albedos with the primary. Due to the relatively small size of the moon the previous size and albedo estimates for the primary remains unchanged. With this discovery all trans-Neptunian objects larger than 1000 km are now known to harbour satellites, an important constraint for moon formation theories in the young Solar system.

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C. Kiss, G. Marton, A. Farkas-Takacs, et. al.
Tue, 7 Mar 17

Comments: Accepted for publication in Astrophysical Journal Letters; 7 pages, 4 figures

Radio and the 1999 UK Total Solar Eclipse [EPA]


On the morning of the August 11th 1999, a total eclipse of the sun plunged Cornwall and parts of Devon into darkness. The event of the eclipse was bound to attract a great deal of scientific and media attention. Realizing that the differences in day-time/night-time propagation of VLF/LF/MF to HF bands would also apply during the darkness of the eclipse, the eclipse offered a rare PR opportunity to promote radio to the general public. At the same time the specific nature of the disturbance to the upper atmosphere and the effect on radio propagation could be examined in detail using scientific instruments at minimum cost since most instruments would not have to be moved. This would allow prediction models to be tested in a controlled fashion. Contained within this report are the details and results of the radio and ionospheric experiments conducted by the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory during the 1999 total solar eclipse. The promoting of the radio experiments with the general public produced nearly 60 appearances on local and national TV, newspapers and periodicals. Close to 1700 people responded to the general public medium wave experiment and 16 million people looked in on the general eclipse web site (part funded by RA) that included the details of the radio experiments. A large database of systematic observations across VLF to HF was collected from radio amateurs and from the RA Regional Offices allowing comparisons to be made with ITU estimates. There is a brief look at the scientific results and a forward look as to how the analysis of this disturbance might have impact on the use of ionospheric models for Space Weather tools in the future.

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R. Bamford
Tue, 7 Mar 17

Comments: 41 pages, 33 Figures, government funded research final report, unclassified

The GTC exoplanet transit spectroscopy survey. VI. A spectrally-resolved Rayleigh scattering slope in GJ 3470b [EPA]


Aims. As a sub-Uranus-mass low-density planet, GJ 3470b has been found to show a flat featureless transmission spectrum in the infrared and a tentative Rayleigh scattering slope in the optical. We conducted an optical transmission spectroscopy project to assess the impacts of stellar activity and to determine whether or not GJ 3470b hosts a hydrogen-rich gas envelop. Methods. We observed three transits with the low-resolution OSIRIS spectrograph at the 10.4 m Gran Telescopio Canarias, and one transit with the high-resolution UVES spectrograph at the 8.2 m Very Large Telescope. Results. From the high-resolution data, we find that the difference of the Ca II H+K lines in- and out-of-transit is only 0.67 +/- 0.22%, and determine a magnetic filling factor of about 10-15%. From the low-resolution data, we present the first optical transmission spectrum in the 435-755 nm band, which shows a slope consistent with Rayleigh scattering. Conclusions. After exploring the potential impacts of stellar activity in our observations, we confirm that Rayleigh scattering in an extended hydrogen/helium atmosphere is currently the best explanation. Further high-precision observations that simultaneously cover optical and infrared bands are required to answer whether or not clouds and hazes exist at high-altitude.

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G. Chen, E. Guenther, E. Palle, et. al.
Tue, 7 Mar 17

Comments: 12 pages, 11 figures, accepted for publication in A&A

On the origin of the wide-orbit circumbinary giant planet HD 106906: A dynamical scenario and its impact on the disk [EPA]


A giant planet has been recently resolved at a projected distance of 730 au from the tight pair of young ($\sim$ 13 Myr) intermediate-mass stars HD 106906AB in the Lower Centaurus Crux (LCC) group. The stars are surrounded by a debris disk which displays a ring-like morphology and strong asymmetries at multiple scales. We aim at studying the likelihood of a scenario where the planet formed closer to the stars in the disk, underwent inward disk-induced migration, and got scattered away by the binary star before being stabilized by a close encounter (fly-by). We performed semi-analytical calculations and numerical simulations (Swift_HJS package) to model the interactions between the planet and the two stars. We accounted for the migration as a simple force. We studied the LCC kinematics to set constraints on the local density of stars, and therefore on the fly-by likelihood. We performed N-body simulations to determine the effects of the planet trajectories (ejection and secular effects) onto the disk morphology. The combination of the migration and mean-motion resonances with the binary star (often 1:6) can eject the planet. Nonetheless, we estimate that the fly-by hypothesis decreases the scenario probability to less than $10^{-7}$ for a derived local density of stars of 0.11 stars/pc$^{3}$. We show that the concomitant effect of the planet and stars trajectories induce spiral-features in the disk which may correspond to the observed asymmetries. Moreover, the present disk shape suggests that the planet is on an eccentric orbit. The scenario we explored is a natural hypothesis if the planet formed within a disk. Conversely, its low probability of occurrence and the fact that HD 106906 b shares some characteristics with other systems in Sco-Cen (e.g. HIP 78530, in terms of mass ratio and separation) may indicate an alternative formation pathway for those objects.

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L. Rodet, H. Beust, M. Bonnefoy, et. al.
Tue, 7 Mar 17

Comments: 16 pages, 14 figures, 4 tables. Accepted for publication in A&A

Dynamical Lifetimes of Asteroids in Retrograde Orbits [EPA]


The population of known minor bodies in retrograde orbits ($i > 90 ^{\circ}$) that are classified as asteroids is still growing. The aim of our study was to estimate the dynamical lifetimes of these bodies by use of the latest observational data, including astrometry and physical properties. We selected 25 asteroids with the best determined orbital elements. We studied their dynamical evolution in the past and future for $\pm$ 100 My ($\pm$ 1 Gy for three particular cases).
We first used orbit determination and cloning to produce swarms of test particles. These swarms were then input into long-term numerical integrations and orbital elements were averaged. Next, we collected the available thermal properties of our objects and used them in an enhanced dynamical model with Yarkovsky forces. We also used a gravitational model for comparison. Finally, we estimated the median lifetimes of 25 asteroids.
We found three objects whose retrograde orbits were stable with a dynamical lifetime $\tau \sim 10 \div 100$ My. A large portion of the objects studied displayed smaller values of $\tau$ ($\tau \sim 1$ My). In addition, we studied the possible influence of the Yarkovsky effect on our results.
We found that the Yarkovsky effect can have a significant influence on the lifetimes of asteroids in retrograde orbits. Due to the presence of this effect, it is possible that the median lifetimes of these objects are extended. Additionally, the changes in orbital elements, caused by Yarkovsky forces, appear to depend on the integration direction. To explain this more precisely, the same model based on new physical parameters, determined from future observations, will be required.

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P. Kankiewicz and I. Wlodarczyk
Tue, 7 Mar 17

Comments: Accepted 2017 March 2. Received 2017 March 1; in original form 2016 September 26

Terrestrial Planet Formation: Constraining the Formation of Mercury [EPA]


The formation of the four terrestrial planets of the solar system is one of the most fundamental problems in the planetary sciences. However, the formation of Mercury remains poorly understood. We investigated terrestrial planet formation by performing 110 high-resolution N-body simulation runs using more than 100 embryos and 6000 disk planetesimals representing a primordial protoplanetary disk. To investigate the formation of Mercury, these simulations considered an inner region of the disk at 0.2-0.5 au (the Mercury region) and disks with and without mass enhancements beyond the ice line location, aIL, in the disk, where aIL = 1.5, 2.25, and 3.0 au were tested. Although Venus and Earth analogs (considering both orbits and masses) successfully formed in the majority of the runs, Mercury analogs were obtained in only nine runs. Mars analogs were also similarly scarce. Our Mercury analogs concentrated at orbits with a ~ 0.27-0.34 au, relatively small eccentricities/inclinations, and median mass m ~ 0.2 Earth masses. In addition, we found that our Mercury analogs acquired most of their final masses from embryos/planetesimals initially located between 0.2 and ~1-1.5 au within 10 Myr, while the remaining mass came from a wider region up to ~3 au at later times. Although the ice line was negligible in the formation of planets located in the Mercury region, it enriched all terrestrial planets with water. Indeed, Mercury analogs showed a wide range of water mass fractions at the end of terrestrial planet formation.

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P. Lykawka and T. Ito
Tue, 7 Mar 17

Comments: 21 pages, 5 figures, 4 tables. Accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal

Creep stability of the proposed AIDA mission target 65803 Didymos: I. Discrete cohesionless granular physics model [EPA]


As the target of the proposed Asteroid Impact & Deflection Assessment (AIDA) mission, the near-Earth binary asteroid 65803 Didymos represents a special class of binary asteroids, those whose primaries are at risk of rotational disruption. To gain a better understanding of these binary systems and to support the AIDA mission, this paper investigates the creep stability of the Didymos primary by representing it as a cohesionless self-gravitating granular aggregate subject to rotational acceleration. To achieve this goal, a soft-sphere discrete element model (SSDEM) capable of simulating granular systems in quasi-static states is implemented and a quasi-static spin-up procedure is carried out. We devise three critical spin limits for the simulated aggregates to indicate their critical states triggered by reshaping and surface shedding, internal structural deformation, and shear failure, respectively. The failure condition and mode, and shear strength of an aggregate can all be inferred from the three critical spin limits. The effects of arrangement and size distribution of constituent particles, bulk density, spin-up path, and interparticle friction are numerically explored. The results show that the shear strength of a spinning self-gravitating aggregate depends strongly on both its internal configuration and material parameters, while its failure mode and mechanism are mainly affected by its internal configuration. Additionally, this study provides some constraints on the possible physical properties of the Didymos primary based on observational data and proposes a plausible formation mechanism for this binary system. With a bulk density consistent with observational uncertainty and close to the maximum density allowed for the asteroid, the Didymos primary in certain configurations can remain geo-statically stable without including cohesion.

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Y. Zhang, D. Richardson, O. Barnouin, et. al.
Tue, 7 Mar 17

Comments: 66 pages, 24 figures, submitted to Icarus on 25/Aug/2016

The evolution of protoplanetary disks from their taxonomy in scattered light: Group I vs Group II [EPA]


High-resolution imaging reveals a large morphological variety of protoplanetary disks. To date, no constraints on their global evolution have been found from this census. An evolutionary classification of disks was proposed based on their IR spectral energy distribution, with the Group I sources showing a prominent cold component ascribed to an earlier stage of evolution than Group II. Disk evolution can be constrained from the comparison of disks with different properties. A first attempt of disk taxonomy is now possible thanks to the increasing number of high-resolution images of Herbig Ae/Be stars becoming available. Near-IR images of six Group II disks in scattered light were obtained with VLT/NACO in Polarimetric Differential Imaging, which is the most efficient technique to image the light scattered by the disk material close to the stars. We compare the stellar/disk properties of this sample with those of well-studied Group I sources available from the literature. Three Group II disks are detected. The brightness distribution in the disk of HD163296 indicates the presence of a persistent ring-like structure with a possible connection with the CO snowline. A rather compact (less than 100 AU) disk is detected around HD142666 and AK Sco. A taxonomic analysis of 17 Herbig Ae/Be sources reveals that the difference between Group I and Group II is due to the presence or absence of a large disk cavity (larger than 5 AU). There is no evidence supporting the evolution from Group I to Group II. Group II are not evolved version of the Group I. Within the Group II disks, very different geometries (both self-shadowed and compact) exist. HD163296 could be the primordial version of a typical Group I. Other Group II, like AK Sco and HD142666, could be smaller counterpart of Group I unable to open cavities as large as those of Group I.

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A. Garufi, G. Meeus, M. Benisty, et. al.
Tue, 7 Mar 17

Comments: 16 pages, 7 figures, accepted for publication by A&A

Change in General Relativistic Precession Rates due to Lidov-Kozai oscillations in Solar System [EPA]


Both General Relativistic (GR) precession and the Lidov-Kozai mechanism, separately, are known to play an important role in the orbital evolution of solar system bodies. Previous works have studied these two mechanisms independently in great detail. However, both these phenomena occurring at the same time in real solar system bodies have rarely been explored. In this work, we find a continuum connecting the GR precession dominant and Lidov-Kozai like mechanism dominant regimes, i.e. an intermediate regime where the competing effects of GR precession and Lidov-Kozai like oscillations co-exist simultaneously. We find some real examples in the solar system in this intermediate regime. Moreover we identify a rare example amongst them, comet 96P/Machholz 1, which shows significant changes in the rates of GR precession (an order of magnitude higher than Mercury’s GR precession rate) due to sungrazing and sun colliding phases induced by Lidov-Kozai like oscillations. This comet’s combination of orbital elements and initial conditions (at the present epoch) favour this measurable rapid change in GR precession (at some points peaking up to 60 times Mercury’s GR precession rate) along with prograde-retrograde inclination flip (due to Lidov-Kozai like oscillations). Similar tests are performed for hundreds of bodies lying in the moderately low perihelion distance and moderately low semi-major axis phase space in the solar system, the present lowest perihelion distance asteroid 322P/SOHO 1, and further examples connected with 96P/Machholz 1 namely, the Marsden and Kracht families of sungrazing comets plus low perihelion meteoroid streams like Daytime Arietids (ARI) and Southern Delta Aquariids (SDA).

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A. Sekhar, D. Asher, S. Werner, et. al.
Mon, 6 Mar 17

Comments: 10 pages, 5 tables, 12 figures; Accepted in MNRAS Main Journal

The shadow knows: using shadows to investigate the structure of the pretransitional disk of HD 100453 [EPA]


We present GPI polarized intensity imagery of HD 100453 in Y-, J-, and K1 bands which reveals an inner gap ($9 – 18$ au), an outer disk ($18-39$ au) with two prominent spiral arms, and two azimuthally-localized dark features also present in SPHERE total intensity images (Wagner 2015). SED fitting further suggests the radial gap extends to $1$ au. The narrow, wedge-like shape of the dark features appears similar to predictions of shadows cast by a inner disk which is misaligned with respect to the outer disk. Using the Monte Carlo radiative transfer code HOCHUNCK3D (Whitney 2013), we construct a model of the disk which allows us to determine its physical properties in more detail. From the angular separation of the features we measure the difference in inclination between the disks 45$^{\circ}$, and their major axes, PA = 140$^{\circ}$ east of north for the outer disk and 100$^{\circ}$for the inner disk. We find an outer disk inclination of $25 \pm 10^{\circ}$ from face-on in broad agreement with the Wagner 2015 measurement of 34$^{\circ}$. SPHERE data in J- and H-bands indicate a reddish disk which points to HD 100453 evolving into a young debris disk.

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Z. Long, R. Fernandes, M. Sitko, et. al.
Mon, 6 Mar 17

Comments: N/A

Orbital Evolution, Activity, and Mass Loss of Comet C/1995 O1 (Hale-Bopp). I. Close Encounter with Jupiter in Third Millennium BCE and Effects of Outgassing on the Comet's Motion and Physical Properties [EPA]


This comprehensive study of comet C/1995 O1 focuses first on investigating its orbital motion over a period of 17.6 yr (1993-2010). The comet is suggested to have approached Jupiter to 0.005 AU on -2251 November 7, in general conformity with Marsden’s (1999) proposal of a Jovian encounter nearly 4300 yr ago. The variations of sizable nongravitational effects with heliocentric distance correlate with the evolution of outgassing, asymmetric relative to perihelion. The future orbital period will shorten to ~1000 yr because of orbital-cascade resonance effects. We find that the sublimation curves of parent molecules are fitted with the type of a law used for the nongravitational acceleration, determine their orbit-integrated mass loss, and conclude that the share of water ice was at most 57%, and possibly less than 50%, of the total outgassed mass. Even though organic parent molecules (many still unidentified) had very low abundances relative to water individually, their high molar mass and sheer number made them, summarily, important potential mass contributors to the total production of gas. The mass loss of dust per orbit exceeded that of water ice by a factor of ~12, a dust loading high enough to imply a major role for heavy organic molecules of low volatility in accelerating the minuscule dust particles in the expanding halos to terminal velocities as high as 0.7 km s^{-1}. In Part II, the comet’s nucleus will be modeled as a compact cluster of massive fragments to conform to the integrated nongravitational effect.

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Z. Sekanina and R. Kracht
Mon, 6 Mar 17

Comments: 49 pages, 28 tables, 16 figures

Enhanced interplanetary panspermia in the TRAPPIST-1 system [EPA]


We present a simple model for estimating the probability of interplanetary panspermia in the recently discovered system of seven planets orbiting the ultracool dwarf star TRAPPIST-1, and find that panspermia is potentially orders of magnitude more likely to occur in the TRAPPIST-1 system compared to the Earth-to-Mars case. As a consequence, we argue that the probability of abiogenesis is greatly enhanced on the TRAPPIST-1 planets compared to the Solar system. By adopting models from theoretical ecology, we show that the number of species transferred and the number of life-bearing planets is also likely to be higher, because of the increased rates of immigration. We propose observational metrics for evaluating whether life was initiated by panspermia on multiple planets in the TRAPPIST-1 system. These results are also applicable to habitable exoplanets and exomoons in other planetary systems.

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M. Lingam and A. Loeb
Fri, 3 Mar 17

Comments: N/A

Observing Exoplanets with High-Dispersion Coronagraphy. II. Demonstration of an Active Single-Mode Fiber Injection Unit [EPA]


High-dispersion coronagraphy (HDC) optimally combines high contrast imaging techniques such as adaptive optics/wavefront control plus coronagraphy to high spectral resolution spectroscopy. HDC is a critical pathway towards fully characterizing exoplanet atmospheres across a broad range of masses from giant gaseous planets down to Earth-like planets. In addition to determining the molecular composition of exoplanet atmospheres, HDC also enables Doppler mapping of atmosphere inhomogeneities (temperature, clouds, wind), as well as precise measurements of exoplanet rotational velocities. Here, we demonstrate an innovative concept for injecting the directly-imaged planet light into a single-mode fiber, linking a high-contrast adaptively-corrected coronagraph to a high-resolution spectrograph (diffraction-limited or not). Our laboratory demonstration includes three key milestones: close-to-theoretical injection efficiency, accurate pointing and tracking, on-fiber coherent modulation and speckle nulling of spurious starlight signal coupling into the fiber. Using the extreme modal selectivity of single-mode fibers, we also demonstrated speckle suppression gains that outperform conventional image-based speckle nulling by at least two orders of magnitude.

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D. Mawet, G. Ruane, W. Xuan, et. al.
Fri, 3 Mar 17

Comments: 10 pages, 7 figures, accepted by ApJ

Evolution of Morphological and Physical Properties of Laboratory Interstellar Organic Residues with Ultraviolet Irradiation [EPA]


Refractory organic compounds formed in molecular clouds are among the building blocks of the solar system objects and could be the precursors of organic matter found in primitive meteorites and cometary materials. However, little is known about the evolutionary pathways of molecular cloud organics from dense molecular clouds to planetary systems. In this study, we focus on the evolution of the morphological and viscoelastic properties of molecular cloud refractory organic matter. We found that the organic residue, experimentally synthesized at about 10 K from UV-irradiated H2O-CH3OH-NH3 ice, changed significantly in terms of its nanometer- to micrometer-scale morphology and viscoelastic properties after UV irradiation at room temperature. The dose of this irradiation was equivalent to that experienced after short residence in diffuse clouds (equal or less than 10,000 years) or irradiation in outer protoplanetary disks. The irradiated organic residues became highly porous and more rigid and formed amorphous nanospherules. These nanospherules are morphologically similar to organic nanoglobules observed in the least-altered chondrites, chondritic porous interplanetary dust particles, and cometary samples, suggesting that irradiation of refractory organics could be a possible formation pathway for such nanoglobules. The storage modulus (elasticity) of photo-irradiated organic residues is about 100 MPa irrespective of vibrational frequency, a value that is lower than the storage moduli of minerals and ice. Dust grains coated with such irradiated organics would therefore stick together efficiently, but growth to larger grains might be suppressed due to an increase in aggregate brittleness caused by the strong connections between grains.

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L. Piani, S. Tachibana, T. Hama, et. al.
Fri, 3 Mar 17

Comments: 11 pages, 8 figures

Precise CCD positions of Triton in 2014-2016 using the newest Gaia DR1 star catalogue [EPA]


755 new CCD observations during the years 2014-2016 have been reduced to derive the precise positions of Triton, the first satellite of Neptune. The observations were made by the 1 m telescope at Yunnan Observatory over fifteen nights. The positions of Triton are measured with respect to the stars in Gaia DR1 star catalogue. The theoretical position of Triton was retrieved from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) ephemeris nep081xl, while the position of Neptune was obtained from the JPL ephemeris DE431mx. Our results show that the mean O-Cs (observed minus computed) are 0.042 and -0.006 arcsec in right ascension and declination respectively. The dispersions of our observations are estimated at about 0.012 arcsec in each direction.

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N. Wang, Q. Peng, H. Peng, et. al.
Fri, 3 Mar 17

Comments: 5 pages, 3 figures, accepted for publication on MNRAS

Observing Exoplanets with High Dispersion Coronagraphy. I. The scientific potential of current and next-generation large ground and space telescopes [EPA]


Direct imaging of exoplanets presents a formidable technical challenge owing to the small angular separation and high contrast between exoplanets and their host stars. High Dispersion Coronagraphy (HDC) is a pathway to achieve unprecedented sensitivity to Earth-like planets in the habitable zone. Here, we present a framework to simulate HDC observations and data analyses. The goal of these simulations is to perform a detailed analysis of the trade-off between raw star light suppression and spectral resolution for various instrument configurations, target types, and science cases. We predict the performance of an HDC instrument at Keck observatory for characterizing directly imaged gas-giant planets in near infrared bands. We also simulate HDC observations of an Earth-like planet using next-generation ground-based (TMT) and spaced-base telescopes (HabEx and LUVOIR). We conclude that ground-based ELTs are more suitable for HDC observations of an Earth-like planet than future space-based missions owing to the considerable difference in collecting area. For ground-based telescopes, HDC observations can detect an Earth-like planet in the habitable zone around an M dwarf star at 10$^{-4}$ starlight suppression level. Compared to the 10$^{-7}$ planet/star contrast, HDC relaxes the starlight suppression requirement by a factor of 10$^3$. For space-based telescopes, detector noise will be a major limitation at spectral resolutions higher than 10$^4$. Considering detector noise and speckle chromatic noise, R=400 (1600) is the optimal spectral resolutions for HabEx(LUVOIR). The corresponding starlight suppression requirement to detect a planet with planet/star contrast=$6.1\times10^{-11}$ is relaxed by a factor of 10 (100) for HabEx (LUVOIR).

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J. Wang, D. Mawet, G. Ruane, et. al.
Fri, 3 Mar 17

Comments: 28 pages, 21 figures, 8 tables, accepted by ApJ

Strong HI Lyman-$α$ variations from a 11 Gyr-old host star: a planetary origin ? [EPA]


Kepler-444 provides a unique opportunity to probe the atmospheric composition and evolution of a compact system of exoplanets smaller than the Earth. Five planets transit this bright K star at close orbital distances, but they are too small for their putative lower atmosphere to be probed at optical/infrared wavelengths. We used the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph instrument onboard the Hubble Space Telescope to search for the signature of the planet’s upper atmospheres at six independent epochs in the Ly-$\alpha$ line. We detect significant flux variations during the transits of both Kepler-444e and f (~20%), and also at a time when none of the known planets was transiting (~40%). Variability in the transition region and corona of the host star might be the source of these variations. Yet, their amplitude over short time scales (~2-3 hours) is surprisingly strong for this old (11.2+-1.0Gyr) and apparently quiet main-sequence star. Alternatively, we show that the in-transits variations could be explained by absorption from neutral hydrogen exospheres trailing the two outer planets (Kepler-444e and f). They would have to contain substantial amounts of water to replenish such hydrogen exospheres, which would reveal them as the first confirmed ocean-planets. The out-of-transit variations, however, would require the presence of a yet-undetected Kepler-444g at larger orbital distance, casting doubt on the planetary origin scenario. Using HARPS-N observations in the sodium doublet, we derived the properties of two Interstellar Medium clouds along the line-of-sight toward Kepler-444. This allowed us to reconstruct the stellar Ly-$\alpha$ line profile and to estimate the XUV irradiation from the star, which would still allow for a moderate mass loss from the outer planets after 11.2Gyr. Follow-up of the system at XUV wavelengths will be required to assess this tantalizing possibility.

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V. Bourrier, D. Ehrenreich, R. Allart, et. al.
Fri, 3 Mar 17

Comments: Accepted for publication in A&A

Scattering V-type asteroids during the giant planets instability: A step for Jupiter, a leap for basalt [EPA]


V-type asteroids are a taxonomic class whose surface is associated to a basaltic composition. The only known source of V-type asteroids in the Main Asteroid Belt is (4) Vesta, that is located in the inner part of the belt. However, many V-type asteroids cannot be dynamically linked to Vesta., in particular, those asteroids located in the middle and outer parts of the Belt. Previous works have failed to find mechanisms to transport V-type asteroids from the inner to the middle and outer belt. In this work we propose a dynamical mechanism that could have acted on primordial asteroid families. We consider a model of the giant planets migration known as the jumping Jupiter model with five planets. Our study is focused on the period of 10 Myr that encompasses the instability phase of the giant planets. We show that, for different hypothetical Vesta-like paleo-families in the inner belt, the perturbations caused by the ice giant that is scattered into the asteroid belt before being ejected from the solar system, are able to scatter V-type asteroids to the middle and outer belt. Based on the orbital distribution of V-type candidates identified from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and the VISTA Survey colours, we show that this mechanism is efficient enough provided that the hypothetical paleo-family originated from a 100 to 500 km crater excavated on the surface of (4) Vesta. This mechanism is able to explain the currently observed V-type asteroids in the middle and outer belt, with the exception of (1459) Magnya.

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P. Brasil, F. Roig, D. Nesvorny, et. al.
Fri, 3 Mar 17

Comments: 10 pages, 4 figures. To appear in MNRAS