S. Desidera

The Astronomical Observatory of Brera, Merate, Lombardy, Italy

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Publications (205)279.4 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: The new planet finder for the Very Large Telescope (VLT), the Spectro-Polarimetric High-contrast Exoplanet REsearch (SPHERE), just had its first light in Paranal. A dedicated instrument for the direct detection of planets, SPHERE, is composed of a polametric camera in visible light, the Zurich IMager POLarimeter (ZIMPOL), and two near-infrared sub-systems: the Infra-Red Dual-beam Imager and Spectrograph (IRDIS), a multi-purpose camera for imaging, polarimetry, and long-slit spectroscopy, and the integral field spectrograph (IFS), an integral field spectrograph. We present the results obtained from the analysis of data taken during the laboratory integration and validation phase, after the injection of synthetic planets. Since no continuous field rotation could be performed in the laboratory, this analysis presents results obtained using reduction techniques that do not use the angular differential imaging (ADI) technique. To perform the simulations, we used the instrumental point spread function (PSF) and model spectra of L and T-type objects scaled in contrast with respect to the host star. We evaluated the expected error in astrometry and photometry as a function of the signal to noise of companions, after spectral differential imaging (SDI) reduction for IRDIS and spectral deconvolution (SD) or principal component analysis (PCA) data reductions for IFS. We deduced from our analysis, for example, that $\beta$Picb, a 12~Myr old planet of $\sim$10~\MJ and semi-major axis of 9--10 AU, would be detected with IRDIS with a photometric error of 0.16~mag and with a relative astrometric position error of 1.1~mas. With IFS, we could retrieve a spectrum with error bars of about 0.15~mag on each channel and astrometric relative position error of 0.6~mas. For a fainter object such as HR8799d, a 13~\MJ planet at a distance of 27~AU, IRDIS could obtain a relative astrometric error of 3~mas.
    10/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: Direct imaging surveys for exoplanets commonly exclude binary stars from their target lists, leaving a large part of the overall planet demography unexplored. To address this gap in our understanding of planet formation and evolution, we have launched the first direct imaging survey dedicated to circumbinary planets: SPOTS, the Search for Planets Orbiting Two Stars. In this paper, we discuss the theoretical context, scientific merit, and technical feasibility of such observations, describe the target sample and observational strategy of our survey, and report on the first results from our pilot survey of 26 targets with the VLT NaCo facility. While we have not found any confirmed substellar companions to date, a number of promising candidate companions remain to be tested for common proper motion in upcoming follow-up observations. We also report on the astrometry of the three resolved binaries in our target sample. This pilot survey constitutes a successful proof of concept for our survey strategy and paves the way for a second stage of exploratory observations with VLT SPHERE.
    09/2014;
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    J. Sanz-Forcada, S. Desidera, G. Micela
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    ABSTRACT: Several circumbinary planets have recently been discovered. The orbit of a planet around a binary stellar system poses several dynamic constraints. The effects that radiation from the host stars may have on the planet atmospheres must be considered. Because of the configuration of a close binary system, these stars have a high rotation rate, which causes a permanent state of high stellar activity and copious XUV radiation. The accumulated effects are stronger than for exoplanets around single stars, and cause a faster evaporation of their atmospheres. We evaluate the effects that stellar radiation has on the evaporation of exoplanets around binary systems and on the survival of these planets. We considered the XUV spectral range to account for the photons that are easily absorbed by a planet atmosphere that is mainly composed of hydrogen. A more complex atmospheric composition is expected to absorb this radiation more efficiently. We used direct X-ray observations to evaluate the energy in the X-rays range and coronal models to calculate the (nondetectable) EUV part of the spectrum. The simulations show that exoplanets in a close orbit will suffer strong photoevaporation that may cause a total loss of atmosphere in a short time. A binary system of two solar-like stars will be highly efficient in evaporating the atmosphere of the planet. These systems will be difficult to find, even if they are dynamically stable. Still, planets may orbit around binary systems of low mass stars for wider orbits. Currently known circumbinary planets are not substantially affected by thermal photoevaporation processes, unless Kepler-47 b has an inflated atmosphere. The distribution of the orbital periods of circumbinary planets is shifted to much longer periods than the average of Kepler planets, which supports a scenario of strong photoevaporation in close-in circumbinary planets.
    09/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: SPHERE is an instrument aimed to the search for low mass companions around young stars in the solar neighborhood. To achieve this goal light from the host star (and in particular the speckle pattern due to the telescope aberrations) should be strongly attenuated while avoiding to cancel out the light from the faint companion. Different techniques can be used to fulfill this aim exploiting the multi-wavelength datacube produced by the Integral Field Spectrograph that is one of the scientific modules that composes SPHERE. In particular we have tested the application of the Spectral Deconvolution and of the Principal Components Analysis techniques. Both of them allow us to obtained a contrast better than 10−5 with respect to the central star at separations of the order of 0.4 arcsec. A further improvement of one order of magnitude can be obtained by combining one of these techniques to the Angular Differential Imaging. To investigate the expected performance of IFS in characterizing detected objects we injected in laboratory data synthetics planets with different intrinsic fluxes and projected separations from the host star. We performed a complete astrometric and photometric analysis of these images to evaluate the expected errors on these measurements, the spectral fidelity and the differences between the reduction methods. The main issue is to avoid the strong self-cancellation that is inherent to all the reduction methods. We have in particular tested two possible solutions: the use of a mask during the reduction on the positions of the companions or, alternatively, using a KLIP procedure for the IFS. This latter seems to give better results in respect o the classical PCA, allowing us to obtain a good spectral reconstruction for simulated objects down to a contrast of ~10-5.
    SPIE Astronomical Telescopes + Instrumentation; 08/2014
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    ABSTRACT: In Spring 2013, the LEECH (LBTI Exozodi Exoplanet Common Hunt) survey began its $\sim$130-night campaign from the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) atop Mt Graham, Arizona. This survey benefits from the many technological achievements of the LBT, including two 8.4-meter mirrors on a single fixed mount, dual adaptive secondary mirrors for high Strehl performance, and a cold beam combiner to dramatically reduce the telescope's overall background emissivity. LEECH neatly complements other high-contrast planet imaging efforts by observing stars at L' (3.8 $\mu$m), as opposed to the shorter wavelength near-infrared bands (1-2.4 $\mu$m) of other surveys. This portion of the spectrum offers deep mass sensitivity, especially around nearby adolescent ($\sim$0.1-1 Gyr) stars. LEECH's contrast is competitive with other extreme adaptive optics systems, while providing an alternative survey strategy. Additionally, LEECH is characterizing known exoplanetary systems with observations from 3-5$\mu$m in preparation for JWST.
    07/2014;
  • Conference Paper: The SPHERE IFS at work
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    ABSTRACT: SPHERE is an extrasolar planet imager whose goal is to detect giant extrasolar planets in the vicinity of bright stars and to characterize them through spectroscopic and polarimetric observations. It is a complete system with a core made of an extreme-Adaptive Optics (AO) turbulence correction, a pupil tracker and NIR and Visible coronagraph devices. At its back end, a differential dual imaging camera and an integral field spectrograph (IFS) work in the Near Infrared (NIR) (0.95 ≤λ≤2.32 μm) and a high resolution polarization camera covers the visible (0.6 ≤λ≤0.9 μm). The IFS is a low resolution spectrograph (R~50) operates in the near IR (0.95≤λ≤1.6 μm), an ideal wavelength range for the detection of planetary features, over a field of view of about 1.7 x 1.7 square arcsecs. Form spectra it is possible to reconstruct monochromatic images with high contrast (10-7) and high spatial resolution, well inside the star PSF. In this paper we describe the IFS, its calibration and the results of several performance which IFS underwent. Furthermore, using the IFS characteristics we give a forecast on the planetary detection rate.
    SPIE Astronomical Telescopes + Instrumentation; 07/2014
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    ABSTRACT: We performed an intensive radial velocity monitoring of XO-2S, the wide companion of the transiting planet-host XO-2N, using HARPS-N at TNG in the framework of the GAPS programme. The radial velocity measurements indicate the presence of a new planetary system formed by a planet that is slightly more massive than Jupiter at 0.48 au and a Saturn-mass planet at 0.13 au. Both planetary orbits are moderately eccentric and were found to be dynamically stable. There are also indications of a long-term trend in the radial velocities. This is the first confirmed case of a wide binary whose components both host planets, one of which is transiting, which makes the XO-2 system a unique laboratory for understanding the diversity of planetary systems.
    07/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: Even though only a handful of sub-stellar companions have been found via direct imaging, each of these discoveries has had a tremendous impact on our understanding of the star formation process and the physics of cool atmospheres. Young stars are prime targets for direct imaging searches for planets and brown dwarfs, due to the favorable brightness contrast expected at such ages and also because it is often possible to derive relatively good age estimates for these primaries. Here we present the direct imaging discovery of HD 284149 b, a 18-50 M_Jup companion at a projected separation of 400 AU from a young (25 Myr) F8 star, with which it shares common proper motion
    The Astrophysical Journal Letters 06/2014; 791(2). · 6.35 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Stellar activity can be a source of radial velocity (RV) noise and can reproduce periodic RV variations similar to those produced by an exoplanet. We present the vigorous activity cycle in the primary of the visual binary HD200466, a system made of two almost identical solar-type stars with an apparent separation of 4.6 arcsec at a distance of 44+/-2 pc. High precision RV over more than a decade, adaptive optics (AO) images, and abundances have been obtained for both components. A linear trend in the RV is found for the secondary. We assumed that it is due to the binary orbit and once coupled with the astrometric data, it strongly constrains the orbital solution of the binary at high eccentricities (e~0.85) and quite small periastron of ~21 AU. If this orbital motion is subtracted from the primary radial velocity curve, a highly significant (false alarm probability <0.1%) period of about 1300 d is obtained, suggesting in a first analysis the presence of a giant planet, but it turned out to be due to the stellar activity cycle. Since our spectra do not include the Ca~II resonance lines, we measured a chromospheric activity indicator based on the Halpha line to study the correlation between activity cycles and long-term activity variations. While the bisector analysis of the line profile does not show a clear indication of activity, the correlation between the Halpha line indicator and the RV measurements identify the presence of a strong activity cycle.
    Astronomy and Astrophysics 06/2014; 567. · 5.08 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Young, nearby stars are ideal targets to search for planets using the direct imaging technique. The determination of stellar parameters is crucial for the interpretation of imaging survey results particularly since the luminosity of substellar objects has a strong dependence on system age. We have conducted a large program with NaCo at the VLT in order to search for planets and brown dwarfs in wide orbits around 86 stars. A large fraction of the targets observed with NaCo were poorly investigated in the literature. We performed a study to characterize the fundamental properties (age, distance, mass) of the stars in our sample. To improve target age determinations, we compiled and analyzed a complete set of age diagnostics. We measured spectroscopic parameters and age diagnostics using dedicated observations acquired with FEROS and CORALIE spectrographs at La Silla Observatory. We also made extensive use of archival spectroscopic data and results available in the literature. Additionally, we exploited photometric time-series, available in ASAS and Super-WASP archives, to derive rotation period for a large fraction of our program stars. We provided updated characterization of all the targets observed in the VLT NaCo Large program, a survey designed to probe the occurrence of exoplanets and brown dwarfs in wide orbits. The median distance and age of our program stars are 64 pc and 100 Myr, respectively. Nearly all the stars have masses between 0.70 and 1.50sun, with a median value of 1.01 Msun. The typical metallicity is close to solar, with a dispersion that is smaller than that of samples usually observed in radial velocity surveys. Several stars are confirmed or proposed here to be members of nearby young moving groups. Eight spectroscopic binaries are identified.
    05/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: In anticipation of the VLT/SPHERE planet imager guaranteed time programs, we have conducted a preparatory survey of 86 stars between 2009 and 2013 in order to identify new faint comoving companions to ultimately carry out a comprehensive analysis of the occurence of giant planets and brown dwarf companions at wide (10-2000 AU) orbits around young, solar-type stars. We used NaCo at VLT to explore the occurrence rate of giant planets and brown dwarfs between typically 0.1 and 8''. Diffraction-limited observations in H-band combined with angular differential imaging enabled us to reach primary star-companion brightness ratios as small as 10-6 at 1.5''. 12 systems were resolved as new binaries, including the discovery of a new white dwarf companion to the star HD8049. Around 34 stars, at least one companion candidate was detected in the observed field of view. More than 400 faint sources were detected, 90% of them in 4 crowded fields. With the exception of HD8049B, we did not identify any new comoving companions. The survey also led to spatially resolved images of the thin debris disk around HD\,61005 that have been published earlier. Finally, considering the survey detection limits, we derive a preliminary upper limit on the frequency of giant planets for semi-major axes of [10,2000] AU: typically less than 15% between 100 and 500 AU, and less than 10% between 50 and 500 AU for exoplanets more massive than 5 MJup and 10 MJup respectively, considering a uniform input distribution and with a confidence level of 95%.
    05/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: [Abridged] Context. Spectral differential imaging (SDI) is part of the observing strategy of current and future high-contrast imaging instruments. It aims to reduce the stellar speckles preventing the detection of cool planets, using in/out methane-band images. It attenuates the signature of off-axis companions to the star, like angular differential imaging (ADI). However, this attenuation is dependent on the spectral properties of the low-mass companions we are searching for. The implications of this particularity on the estimation of the detection limits have been poorly explored so far. Aims. We perform an imaging survey to search for cool (Teff<1000-1300 K) giant planets at separations as close as 5-10 AU. We also aim to assess sensitivity limits in SDI data taking into account the photometric bias. Doing so, we will have a better view of the SDI performance. Methods. We observe a selected sample of 16 stars (age < 200 Myr, d < 25 pc) with the phase-mask coronagraph, SDI, and ADI modes of VLT/NaCo. Results. We do not detect any companions. As for the sensitivity limits, we argue that the SDI residual noise cannot be converted into mass limits because it represents a differential flux, contrary to the case of single-band images. This results in degeneracies for the mass limits, which may be broken with the use of single-band constraints. We employ instead a method to directly determine the mass limits. The survey is sensitive to cool giant planets beyond 10 AU and 30 AU for 65% and 100% of the sample. Conclusions. For close-in separations, the optimal regime for SDI corresponds to SDI flux ratios >2. According to the BT-Settl model, this translates into Teff<800 K. The methods described here can be applied to the data interpretation of SPHERE. We expect better performance with the dual-band imager IRDIS, thanks to more suitable filter characteristics and better image quality.
    04/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: The measurement of the Rossiter-McLaughlin effect for transiting exoplanets places constraints on the orientation of the orbital axis with respect to the stellar spin axis, which can shed light on the mechanisms shaping the orbital configuration of planetary systems. Here we present the interesting case of the Saturn-mass planet HAT-P-18b, which orbits one of the coolest stars for which the Rossiter-McLaughlin effect has been measured so far. We acquired a spectroscopic time-series, spanning a full transit, with the HARPS-N spectrograph mounted at the TNG telescope. The very precise radial velocity measurements delivered by the HARPS-N pipeline were used to measure the Rossiter-McLaughlin effect. Complementary new photometric observations of another full transit were also analysed to obtain an independent determination of the star and planet parameters. We find that HAT-P-18b lies on a counter-rotating orbit, the sky-projected angle between the stellar spin axis and the planet orbital axis being lambda=132 +/- 15 deg. By joint modelling of the radial velocity and photometric data we obtain new determinations of the star (M_star = 0.770 +/- 0.027 M_Sun; R_star= 0.717 +/- 0.026 R_Sun; Vsin(I_star) = 1.58 +/- 0.18 km/s) and planet (M_pl = 0.196 +/- 0.008 M_J; R_pl = 0.947 +/- 0.044 R_J) parameters. Our spectra provide for the host star an effective temperature T_eff = 4870 +/- 50 K, a surface gravity of log(g_star) = 4.57 +/- 0.07 cm/s, and an iron abundance of [Fe/H] = 0.10 +/- 0.06. HAT-P-18b is one of the few planets known to transit a star with T_eff < 6250 K on a retrograde orbit. Objects such as HAT-P-18b (low planet mass and/or relatively long orbital period) most likely have a weak tidal coupling with their parent stars, therefore their orbits preserve any original misalignment. As such, they are ideal targets to study the causes of orbital evolution in cool main-sequence stars.
    03/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: We present new data for five under-luminous type II-plateau supernovae (SNe IIP), namely SN 1999gn, SN 2002gd, SN 2003Z, SN 2004eg and SN 2006ov. This new sample of low-luminosity SNe IIP (LL SNe IIP) is analyzed together with similar objects studied in the past. All of them show a flat light curve plateau lasting about 100 days, an under luminous late-time exponential tail, intrinsic colours that are unusually red, and spectra showing prominent and narrow P-Cygni lines. A velocity of the ejected material below 10^3 km/s is inferred from measurements at the end of the plateau. The 56Ni masses ejected in the explosion are very small (less than 10^-2 solar masses). We investigate the correlations among 56Ni mass, expansion velocity of the ejecta and absolute magnitude in the middle of the plateau, confirming the main findings of Hamuy (2003), according to which events showing brighter plateau and larger expansion velocities are expected to produce more 56Ni. We propose that these faint objects represent the low luminosity tail of a continuous distribution in parameters space of SNe IIP. The physical properties of the progenitors at the explosion are estimated through the hydrodynamical modeling of the observables for two representative events of this class, namely SN 2005cs and SN 2008in. We find that the majority of LL SNe IIP, and quite possibly all, originate in the core-collapse of intermediate mass stars, in the mass range 10-15 solar masses.
    01/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: In February 2013, the LEECH (LBTI Exozodi Exoplanet Common Hunt) survey began its 100-night campaign from the Large Binocular Telescope atop Mount Graham in Arizona. LEECH nearly complements other high-contrast planet imaging efforts by observing stars in L' band (3.8 microns) as opposed to the shorter wavelength near-infrared bands (1-2.3 microns). This part of the spectrum offers deeper mass sensitivity for intermediate age (several hundred Myr-old) systems, since their Jovian-mass planets radiate predominantly in the mid-infrared. In this proceedings, we present the science goals for LEECH and a preliminary contrast curve from some early data.
    Proceedings of the International Astronomical Union 01/2014; 8(S299).
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    ABSTRACT: Spectral differential imaging (SDI) is part of the observing strategy of current and on-going high-contrast imaging instruments on ground-based telescopes. Although it improves the star light rejection, SDI attenuates the signature of off-axis companions to the star, just like angular differential imaging (ADI). However, the attenuation due to SDI has the peculiarity of being dependent on the spectral properties of the companions. To date, no study has investigated these effects. Our team is addressing this problem based on data from a direct imaging survey of 16 stars combining the phase-mask coronagraph, the SDI and the ADI modes of VLT/NaCo. The objective of the survey is to search for cool (Teff<1000-1300 K) giant planets at separations of 5-10 AU orbiting young, nearby stars (<200 Myr, <25 pc). The data analysis did not yield any detections. As for the estimation of the sensivity limits of SDI-processed images, we show that it requires a different analysis than that used in ADI-based surveys. Based on a method using the flux predictions of evolutionary models and avoiding the estimation of contrast, we determine directly the mass sensivity limits of the survey for the ADI processing alone and with the combination of SDI and ADI. We show that SDI does not systematically improve the sensitivity due to the spectral properties and self-subtraction of point sources.
    Proceedings of the International Astronomical Union 01/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: Until now, just a few extrasolar planets (~30 out of 860) have been found through the direct imaging method. This number should greatly improve when the next generation of High Contrast Instruments like Gemini Planet Imager (GPI) at Gemini South Telescope or SPHERE at VLT will became operative at the end of this year. In particular, the Integral Field Spectrograph (IFS), one of the SPHERE subsystems, should allow a first characterization of the spectral type of the found extrasolar planets. Here we present the results of the last performance tests that we have done on the IFS instrument at the Institut de Planetologie et d'Astrophysique de Grenoble (IPAG) in condition as similar as possible to the ones that we will find at the telescope. We have found that we should be able to reach contrast down to 5x10$^{-7}$ and make astrometry at sub-mas level with the instrument in the actual conditions. A number of critical issues have been identified. The resolution of these problems could allow to further improve the performance of the instrument.
    Proceedings of the International Astronomical Union 07/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: Next year the second generation instrument SPHERE will begin science operations at the Very Large Telecope (ESO). This instrument will be dedicated to the search for exoplanets through the direct imaging techniques, with the new generation extreme adaptive optics. In this poster, we present the performances of one of the focal instruments, the Infra-Red Dual-beam Imaging and Spectroscopy (IRDIS). All the results have been obtained with tests in laboratory, simulating the observing conditions in Paranal. We tested several configurations using the sub-system Integral Field Spectrograph (IFS) in parallel and simulating long coronographic exposures on a star, calibrating instrumental ghosts, checking the performance of the adaptive optics system and reducing data with the consortium pipeline. The contrast one can reach with IRDIS is of the order of 2\times 10^{-6}$ at 0.5 arcsec separation from the central star.
    Proceedings of the International Astronomical Union 07/2013;
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    Dataset: Qatar-1 lc
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Publication Stats

737 Citations
279.40 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2001–2014
    • The Astronomical Observatory of Brera
      Merate, Lombardy, Italy
  • 2006–2012
    • National Institute of Astrophysics
      Roma, Latium, Italy
  • 2010
    • University Joseph Fourier - Grenoble 1
      Grenoble, Rhône-Alpes, France
  • 1998–2007
    • University of Padova
      Padua, Veneto, Italy