Publications (5)12.05 Total impact
Article: Searching for Trojan Asteroids in the HD 209458 System: Space-based MOST Photometry and Dynamical Modeling[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: We have searched Microvariability and Oscillations of STars (MOST) satellite photometry obtained in 2004, 2005, and 2007 of the solar-type star HD 209458 for Trojan asteroid swarms dynamically coupled with the system's transiting "hot Jupiter" HD 209458b. Observations of the presence and nature of asteroids around other stars would provide unique constraints on migration models of exoplanetary systems. Our results set an upper limit on the optical depth of Trojans in the HD 209458 system that can be used to guide current and future searches of similar systems by upcoming missions. Using cross-correlation methods with artificial signals implanted in the data, we find that our detection limit corresponds to a relative Trojan transit depth of 1\times10-4, equivalent to ~1 lunar mass of asteroids, assuming power-law Trojan size distributions similar to Jupiter's Trojans in our solar system. We confirm with dynamical interpretations that some asteroids could have migrated inward with the planet to its current orbit at 0.045 AU, and that the Yarkovsky effect is ineffective at eliminating objects of > 1 m in size. However, using numerical models of collisional evolution we find that, due to high relative speeds in this confined Trojan environment, collisions destroy the vast majority of the asteroids in <10 Myr. Our modeling indicates that the best candidates to search for exoTrojan swarms in 1:1 mean resonance orbits with "hot Jupiters" are young systems (ages of about 1 Myr or less). Years of Kepler satellite monitoring of such a system could detect an asteroid swarm with a predicted transit depth of 3\times10-7. Comment: 32 pages, 8 figures05/2010;
Article: Looking for Super-Earths in the HD 189733 System: A Search for Transits in Most Space-Based Photometry[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: We have made a comprehensive transit search for exoplanets down to ~1.5 - 2 Earth radii in the HD 189733 system, based on 21-days of nearly uninterrupted broadband optical photometry obtained with the MOST (Microvariability & Oscillations of STars) satellite in 2006. We have searched these data for realistic limb-darkened transits from exoplanets other than the known hot Jupiter, HD 189733b, with periods ranging from about 0.4 days to one week. Monte Carlo statistical tests of the data with synthetic transits inserted into the data-set allow us to rule out additional close-in exoplanets with sizes ranging from about 0.15 - 0.31 RJ (Jupiter radii), or 1.7 - 3.5 RE (Earth radii) on orbits whose planes are near that of HD 189733b. These null results constrain theories that invoke lower-mass hot Super-Earth and hot Neptune planets in orbits similar to HD 189733b due to the inward migration of this hot Jupiter. This work also illustrates the feasibility of discovering smaller transiting planets around chromospherically active stars. Comment: Accepted for publication in ApJ: 10 pages, 5 figuresThe Astrophysical Journal 09/2007; · 6.02 Impact Factor
Article: Looking for Giant Earths in the HD 209458 System: A Search for Transits in MOST Space-based Photometry[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: We have made a comprehensive transit search for exoplanets down to about 2 Earth radii in the HD 209458 system, based on nearly uninterrupted broadband optical photometry obtained with the MOST (Microvariability and Oscillations of Stars) satellite, spanning 14 days in 2004 and 44 days in 2005. We have searched these data for limb-darkened transits at periods other than that of the known giant planet, from about 0.5 days to 2 weeks. Monte Carlo statistical tests of the data with synthetic transits inserted allow us to rule out additional close-in exoplanets with sizes ranging from about 0.20-0.36 RJ (Jupiter radii), or 2.2-4.0 RE (Earth radii) on orbits whose planes are near that of HD 209458b. These null results constrain theories that invoke lower mass planets in orbits similar to HD 209458b to explain its anomalously large radius, and those that predict "hot Earths" due to the inward migration of HD 209458b.The Astrophysical Journal 04/2007; · 6.02 Impact Factor
Article: Fugitives from the Vesta family[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Spectroscopic observations of Asteroid (4) Vesta and numerous members of the Vesta family located in the inner asteroid belt have determined that these objects have reflectance properties of basaltic material. A plausible hypothesis is that the surface of Vesta was punctured by large impacts in the past which dispersed fragments of its basaltic crust into space and produced one of the most prominent asteroid families ever created in the belt. Until recently, Vesta was the only known object in the asteroid belt which underwent differentiation and survived to the present epoch. Since 2000, many new small basaltic asteroids have been discovered in the inner and outer parts of the asteroid belt, possibly representing fragments from distinct differentiated bodies. These discoveries may help us to better understand the number and nature of objects in the inner Solar System that underwent geological differentiation. To investigate these issues we performed extensive numerical simulations whose aim was to reproduce, as precisely as possible, the dynamical evolution of Vesta's ejected fragments over timescales comparable to the family's age. Specifically, we numerically integrated the orbital evolution of 6600 test bodies with orbits that started within the Vesta family and dynamically evolved over 2 Gy. Our model included gravitational perturbation of all planets (except Mercury) and the Yarkovsky effect. The results show that a relatively large fraction of the original Vesta family members may have evolved out of the family borders defined by clustering algorithms and are now dispersed over the inner asteroid belt. We compared the orbital distribution of our model fragments with the orbital locations of known basaltic asteroids in various parts of the inner main belt to find that: (i) Most basaltic asteroids with semimajor axis located outside the Vesta family's borders in the inner main belt, including (809) Lundia and (956) Elisa, are most likely fugitives from the Vesta family that have evolved to their current orbits via various identified dynamical pathways. Our results also suggest that the Vesta family is at least ∼1 Gy old. (ii) Interestingly, orbits of many basaltic asteroids with , like those of (4796) Lewis and (5379) Abehiroshi, are displaced from the Vesta family to low inclinations and are not obtained in our simulations with sufficient efficiency. We propose that: (i) these small basaltic asteroids may be fragments of differentiated bodies other than (4) Vesta; or (ii) they were liberated from the Vesta's surface before (or during) the Late Heavy Bombardment epoch ∼3.8 Gy ago and their orbital inclinations separated from that of Vesta when secular resonances swept through the region.Icarus.
[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Our understanding of planet formation depends in fundamental ways on what we learn by analyzing the composition, mineralogy, and petrology of meteorites. Yet, it is difficult to deduce the compositional and thermal gradients that existed in the solar nebula from the meteoritic record because, in most cases, we do not know where meteorites with different chemical and isotopic signatures originated. Here we developed a model that tracks the orbits of meteoroid-sized objects as they evolve from the ν6 secular resonance to Earth-crossing orbits. We apply this model to determining the number of meteorites accreted on the Earth immediately after a collisional disruption of a D∼200-km-diameter inner-main-belt asteroid in the Flora family region. We show that this event could produce fossil chondrite meteorites found in an ≈470 Myr old marine limestone quarry in southern Sweden, the L-chondrite meteorites with shock ages ≈470 Myr falling on the Earth today, as well as asteroid-sized fragments in the Flora family. To explain the measured short cosmic-ray exposure ages of fossil meteorites our model requires that the meteoroid-sized fragments were launched at speeds >500 m s−1 and/or the collisional lifetimes of these objects were much shorter immediately after the breakup event than they are today.Icarus.