D. Pollacco

The University of Warwick, Coventry, England, United Kingdom

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Publications (197)531.59 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Exoplanet science is booming. In 20 years our knowledge has expanded considerably, from the first discovery of a Hot Jupiter, to the detection of a large population of Neptunes and super-Earths, to the first steps toward the characterization of exoplanet atmospheres. Between today and 2025, the field will evolve at an even faster pace with the advent of several space-based transit search missions, ground-based spectrographs, high-contrast imaging facilities, and the James Webb Space Telescope. Especially the ESA M-class PLATO mission will be a game changer in the field. From 2024 onwards, PLATO will find transiting terrestrial planets orbiting within the habitable zones of nearby, bright stars. These objects will require the power of Extremely Large Telescopes (ELTs) to be characterized further. The technique of ground-based high-resolution spectroscopy is establishing itself as a crucial pathway to measure chemical composition, atmospheric structure and atmospheric circulation in transiting exoplanets. A high-resolution spectrograph covering the visible and near-IR domains, mounted on the European ELT, will be able to detect molecules such as water vapour, carbon dioxide and oxygen in the atmospheres of habitable planets under favourable circumstances. E-ELT HiRES is the perfect ground-based match to the PLATO space mission and represents a unique opportunity for Europe to lead the world into the era of exploration of exoplanets with habitable conditions. HiRES will also be extremely complementary to other E-ELT planned instruments specialising in different kinds of planets, such as METIS and EPICS.
    11/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: We report the discovery of three new transiting hot Jupiters by WASP-South together with the TRAPPIST photometer and the Euler/CORALIE spectrograph. WASP-74b orbits a star of V = 9.7, making it one of the brighter systems accessible to Southern telescopes. It is a 0.95 M_Jup planet with a moderately bloated radius of 1.5 R_Jup in a 2-d orbit around a slightly evolved F9 star. WASP-83b is a Saturn-mass planet at 0.3 M_Jup with a radius of 1.0 R_Jup. It is in a 5-d orbit around a fainter (V = 12.9) G8 star. WASP-89b is a 6 M_Jup planet in a 3-d orbit with an eccentricity of e = 0.2. It is thus similar to massive, eccentric planets such as XO-3b and HAT-P-2b, except that those planets orbit F stars whereas WASP-89 is a K star. The V = 13.1 host star is magnetically active, showing a rotation period of 20.2 d, while star spots are visible in the transits. There are indications that the planet's orbit is aligned with the stellar spin. WASP-89 is a good target for an extensive study of transits of star spots.
    10/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: We report on a pilot study of a novel observing technique, defocussed transmission spectroscopy, and its application to the study of exoplanet atmospheres using ground-based platforms. Similar to defocussed photometry, defocussed transmission spectroscopy has an added advantage over normal spectroscopy in that it reduces systematic errors due to flat-fielding, PSF variations, slit-jaw imperfections and other effects associated with ground-based observations. For one of the planetary systems studied, WASP-12b, we report a tentative detection of additional Na absorption of 0.12+/-0.03[+0.03]% during transit using a 2A wavelength mask. After consideration of a systematic that occurs mid-transit, it is likely that the true depth is actually closer to 0.15%. This is a similar level of absorption reported in the atmosphere of HD209458b (0.135+/-0.017%, Snellen et al. 2008). Finally, we outline methods that will improve the technique during future observations, based on our findings from this pilot study.
    10/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: We present the discoveries of six transiting hot Jupiters: WASP-87b, WASP-108b, WASP-109b, WASP-110b, WASP-111b and WASP-112b. The planets have masses of 0.51--2.2 $M_{\rm Jup}$ and radii of 1.19--1.44 $R_{\rm Jup}$ and are in orbits of 1.68--3.78 d around stars with masses 0.81--1.50 $M_{\rm \odot}$. WASP-111b is in a prograde, near-aligned ($\lambda = -5 \pm 16^\circ$), near-circular ($e < 0.10$ at 2 $\sigma$) orbit around a mid-F star. As tidal alignment around such a hot star is thought to be inefficient, this suggests that either the planet migrated inwards through the protoplanetary disc or that scattering processes happened to leave it in a near-aligned orbit. WASP-111 appears to have transitioned from an active to a quiescent state between the 2012 and 2013 seasons, which makes the system a candidate for studying the effects of variable activity on a hot-Jupiter atmosphere. We find evidence that the mid-F star WASP-87 is a visual binary with a mid-G star. Two host stars are metal poor: WASP-112 has [Fe/H] = $-0.64 \pm 0.15$ and WASP-87 has [Fe/H] = $-0.41 \pm 0.10$. The low density of WASP-112 (0.81 $M_{\rm \odot}$, $0.80 \pm 0.04$ $\rho_{\rm \odot}$) cannot be matched by standard models for any reasonable value of the age of the star, suggesting it to be affected by the "radius anomaly".
    10/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: PLATO 2.0 is a mission candidate for ESA's M3 launch opportunity (2022/24). It addresses fundamental questions such as: How do planetary systems form and evolve? Are there other systems with planets like ours, able to develop life? The PLATO 2.0 instrument consists of 34 small aperture telescopes providing a wide field-of-view and a large photometric magnitude range. It targets bright stars in wide fields to detect and characterize planets down to Earth-size by photometric transits, whose masses can then be determined by ground-based radial-velocity follow-up measurements. Asteroseismology will be performed for stars <=11mag to obtain highly accurate stellar parameters, including masses and ages. The combination of bright targets and asteroseismology results in high accuracy for the bulk planet parameters: 2%, 4-10% and 10% for planet radii, masses and ages, respectively. The foreseen baseline observing strategy includes two long pointings (2-3 years) to detect and bulk characterize planets reaching into the habitable zone (HZ) of solar-like stars and an additional step-and-stare phase to cover in total about 50% of the sky. PLATO 2.0 will observe up to 1,000,000 stars and detect and characterize hundreds of small planets, and thousands of planets in the Neptune to gas giant regime out to the HZ. It will therefore provide the first large-scale catalogue of bulk characterized planets with accurate radii, masses, mean densities and ages. This catalogue will include Earth-like planets at intermediate orbital distances, where surface temperatures are moderate. Coverage of this parameter range with statistical numbers of bulk characterized planets is unique to PLATO 2.0. ...
    Experimental Astronomy 10/2014; 38:249. · 2.97 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We report the discovery of two hot-Jupiter planets, each orbiting one of the stars of a wide binary system. WASP-94A (2MASS 20550794-3408079) is an F8 type star hosting a transiting planet with a radius of 1.72 +/- 0.06 R_Jup, a mass of 0.445 +/- 0.026 M_Jup, and an orbital period of 3.95 days. The Rossiter-McLaughlin effect is clearly detected, and the measured projected spin-orbit angle indicates that the planet occupies a retrograde orbit. WASP-94B (2MASS 20550915-3408078) is an F9 stellar companion at an angular separation of 15" (projected separation 2700 au), hosting a gas giant with a minimum mass of 0.617 +/- 0.028 M_Jup with a period of 2.008 days, detected by Doppler measurements. The orbital planes of the two planets are inclined relative to each other, indicating that at least one of them is inclined relative to the plane of the stellar binary. These hot Jupiters in a binary system bring new insights into the formation of close-in giant planets and the role of stellar multiplicity.
    09/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: We report the sky-projected orbital obliquity (spin-orbit angle) of WASP-84b, a 0.70-$M_{\rm Jup}$ planet in a 8.52-day orbit around a G9V/K0V star, to be $\lambda = 0.3 \pm 1.7^\circ$. We obtain a true obliquity of $\psi = 14.8 \pm 8.0^\circ$ from a measurement of the inclination of the stellar spin axis with respect to the sky plane. Due to the young age and the weak tidal forcing of the system, we suggest that the orbit of WASP-84b is unlikely to have both realigned and circularised from the misaligned and/or eccentric orbit likely to have arisen from high-eccentricity migration. Therefore we conclude that the planet probably migrated via interaction with the protoplanetary disc. This would make it the first short-orbit, giant planet to have been shown to have migrated via this pathway. Further, we argue that the distribution of obliquities for planets orbiting cool stars ($T_{\rm eff}$ < 6250 K) suggests that high-eccentricity migration is an important pathway for the formation of short-orbit, giant planets.
    09/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: We report on the characterization of the Kepler-101 planetary system, thanks to a combined DE-MCMC analysis of Kepler data and forty radial velocities obtained with the HARPS-N spectrograph. This system was previously validated by Rowe et al. (2014) and is composed of a hot super-Neptune, Kepler-101b, and an Earth-sized planet, Kepler-101c. These two planets orbit the slightly evolved and metal-rich G-type star in 3.49 and 6.03 days, respectively. With mass $M_{\rm p}=51.1_{-4.7}^{+5.1}~M_{\oplus}$, radius $R_{\rm p}=5.77_{-0.79}^{+0.85}~R_{\oplus}$, and density $\rho_{\rm p}=1.45_{-0.48}^{+0.83} \rm g\;cm^{-3}$, Kepler-101b is the first fully-characterized super-Neptune, and its density suggests that heavy elements make up a significant fraction of its interior; more than $60\%$ of its total mass. Kepler-101c has a radius of $1.25_{-0.17}^{+0.19}~R_{\oplus}$, which implies the absence of any H/He envelope, but its mass could not be determined due to the relative faintness of the parent star for highly precise radial-velocity measurements ($K_{\rm p}=13.8$) and the limited number of radial velocities. The $1~\sigma$ upper limit, $M_{\rm p} < 3.8~M_{\oplus}$, excludes a pure iron composition with a $68.3\%$ probability. The architecture of the Kepler-101 planetary system - containing a close-in giant planet and an outer Earth-sized planet with a period ratio slightly larger than the 3:2 resonance - is certainly of interest for planet formation and evolution scenarios. This system does not follow the trend, seen by Ciardi et al. (2013), that in the majority of Kepler systems of planet pairs with at least one Neptune-size or larger planet, the larger planet has the longer period.
    09/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: We report the discovery from the WASP survey of two exoplanetary systems, each consisting of a Jupiter-sized planet transiting an 11th magnitude (V) main-sequence star. WASP-104b orbits its star in 1.75 d, whereas WASP-106b has the fourth-longest orbital period of any planet discovered by means of transits observed from the ground, orbiting every 9.29 d. Each planet is more massive than Jupiter (WASP-104b has a mass of $1.27 \pm 0.05~\mathrm{M_{Jup}}$, while WASP-106b has a mass of $1.93 \pm 0.08~\mathrm{M_{Jup}}$). Both planets are just slightly larger than Jupiter, with radii of $1.14 \pm 0.04$ and $1.09 \pm 0.04~\mathrm{R_{Jup}}$ for WASP-104 and WASP-106 respectively. No significant orbital eccentricity is detected in either system, and while this is not surprising in the case of the short-period WASP-104b, it is interesting in the case of WASP-106b, because many otherwise similar planets are known to have eccentric orbits.
    08/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: Since the discovery of the transiting Super-Earth CoRoT-7b, several investigations have been made of the number and precise masses of planets present in the system, but they all yield different results, owing to the star's high level of activity. Radial velocity (RV) variations induced by stellar activity therefore need to be modelled and removed to allow a reliable detection of all planets in the system. We re-observed CoRoT-7 in January 2012 with both HARPS and the CoRoT satellite, so that we now have the benefit of simultaneous RV and photometric data. We fitted the off-transit variations in the CoRoT lightcurve using a harmonic decomposition similar to that implemented in Queloz et al. (2009). This fit was then used to model the stellar RV contribution, according to the methods described by Aigrain et al. (2011). This model was incorporated into a Monte Carlo Markov Chain in order to make a precise determination of the orbits of CoRoT-7b and CoRoT-7c. We also assess the evidence for the presence of one or two additional planetary companions.
    Proceedings of the International Astronomical Union 07/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: We report the discovery of WASP-117b, the first planet with a period beyond 10 days found by the WASP survey. The planet has a mass of M_p = 0.2755 (+/-0.0090) M_jup, a radius of R_p = 1.021 (-0.065 +0.076) R_jup and is in an eccentric (e = 0.302 +/-0.023), 10.02165 +/- 0.00055 d orbit around a main-sequence F9 star. The host star's brightness (V=10.15 mag) makes WASP-117 a good target for follow-up observations, and with a planetary equilibrium temperature of T_eq = 1024 (-26 +30) K and a low planetary density (rho_p = 0.259 (-0.048 +0.054) rho_jup) it is one of the best targets for transmission spectroscopy among planets with periods around 10 days. From a measurement of the Rossiter-McLaughlin effect, we infer a projected angle between the planetary orbit and stellar spin axes of beta = -44 (+/-11) deg, and we further derive an orbital obliquity of psi = 69.5 (+3.6 -3.1) deg. Owing to the large orbital separation, tidal forces causing orbital circularization and realignment of the planetary orbit with the stellar plane are weak, having had little impact on the planetary orbit over the system lifetime. WASP-117b joins a small sample of transiting giant planets with well characterized orbits at periods above ~8 days.
    Astronomy and Astrophysics 06/2014; 568. · 5.08 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Period or amplitude variations in eclipsing binaries may reveal the presence of additional massive bodies in the system, such as circumbinary planets. Here, we have studied twelve previously-known eclipsing post-common-envelope binaries for evidence of such light curve variations, on the basis of multi-year observations in the SuperWASP archive. The results for HW Vir provided strong evidence for period changes consistent with those measured by previous studies, and help support a two-planet model for the system. ASAS J102322-3737.0 exhibited plausible evidence for a period increase not previously suggested; while NY Vir, QS Vir and NSVS 14256825 afforded less significant support for period change, providing some confirmation to earlier claims. In other cases, period change was not convincingly observed; for AA Dor and NSVS 07826147, previous findings of constant period were confirmed. This study allows us to present hundreds of new primary eclipse timings for these systems, and further demonstrates the value of wide-field high-cadence surveys like SuperWASP for the investigation of variable stars.
    Astronomy and Astrophysics 05/2014; 566. · 5.08 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We used the light curve archive of the Qatar Exoplanet Survey (QES) to investigate the RR Lyrae variable stars listed in the General Catalogue of Variable Stars (GCVS). Of 588 variables studied, we reclassify 14 as eclipsing binaries, one as an RS Canum Venaticorum-type variable, one as an irregular variable, four as classical Cepheids, and one as a type II Cepheid, while also improving their periods. We also report new RR Lyrae sub-type classifications for 65 variables and improve on the GCVS period estimates for 135 RR Lyrae variables. There are seven double-mode RR Lyrae stars in the sample for which we measured their fundamental and first overtone periods. Finally, we detect the Blazhko effect in 38 of the RR Lyrae stars for the first time and we successfully measured the Blazhko period for 26 of them.
    05/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: We used the light curve archive of the Qatar Exoplanet Survey (QES) to investigate the RR Lyrae variable stars listed in the General Catalogue of Variable Stars (GCVS). Of 588 variables studied, we reclassify 14 as eclipsing binaries, one as an RS Canum Venaticorum-type variable, one as an irregular variable, four as classical Cepheids, and one as a type II Cepheid, while also improving their periods. We also report new RR Lyrae sub-type classifications for 65 variables and improve on the GCVS period estimates for 135 RR Lyrae variables. There are seven double-mode RR Lyrae stars in the sample for which we measured their fundamental and first overtone periods. Finally, we detect the Blazhko effect in 38 of the RR Lyrae stars for the first time and we successfully measured the Blazhko period for 26 of them.
    04/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: Circumbinary planets have been the subject of much recent work, providing both simulations and new discoveries. We present the first observationally based determination of the rate of occurrence of these planets. This is derived from the publicly available Kepler data, using an automated search algorithm and debiasing process to produce occurrence rates implied by the seven systems already known. These rates depend critically on the planetary inclination distribution: if circumbinary planets are preferentially coplanar with their host binaries, as has been suggested, then the rate of occurrence of planets with $R_p>6R_\oplus$ orbiting with $P_p<300$\ d is $10.0 ^{+18}_{-6.5}$% (95% confidence limits), higher than but consistent with single star rates. If on the other hand the underlying planetary inclination distribution is isotropic, then this occurrence rate rises dramatically, to give a lower limit of 47%. This implies that formation and subsequent dynamical evolution in circumbinary disks must either lead to largely coplanar planets, or proceed with significantly greater ease than in circumstellar disks. As a result of this investigation we also show that giant planets (${>}10R_\oplus$) are significantly less common in circumbinary orbits than their smaller siblings, and confirm that the proposed shortfall of circumbinary planets orbiting the shorter period binaries in the Kepler sample is a real effect.
    04/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: The majority of extra-solar planets have been discovered (or confirmed after follow-up) through radial-velocity (RV) surveys. Using ground-based spectrographs such as High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planetary Search (HARPS) and HARPS-North, it is now possible to detect planets that are only a few times the mass of the Earth. However, the presence of dark spots on the stellar surface produces RV signals that are very similar in amplitude to those caused by orbiting low-mass planets. Disentangling these signals has thus become the biggest challenge in the detection of Earth-mass planets using RV surveys. To do so, we use the star's lightcurve to model the RV variations produced by spots. Here we present this method and show the results of its application to CoRoT-7.
    03/2014; 13(2).
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    ABSTRACT: Circumbinary planets have been the subject of much recent work, providing both simulations and new discoveries. We present the first observationally based determination of the rate of occurrence of these planets. This is derived from the publicly available Kepler data, using an automated search algorithm and debiasing process to produce occurrence rates implied by the seven systems already known. These rates depend critically on the planetary inclination distribution: if circumbinary planets are preferentially coplanar with their host binaries, as has been suggested, then the rate of occurrence of planets with $R_p>6R_\oplus$ orbiting with $P_p<300$\ d is $10.0 ^{+18}_{-6.5}$% (95% confidence limits), higher than but consistent with single star rates. If on the other hand the underlying planetary inclination distribution is isotropic, then this occurrence rate rises dramatically, to give a lower limit of 47%. This implies that formation and subsequent dynamical evolution in circumbinary disks must either lead to largely coplanar planets, or proceed with significantly greater ease than in circumstellar disks. As a result of this investigation we also show that giant planets (${>}10R_\oplus$) are significantly less common in circumbinary orbits than their smaller siblings, and confirm that the proposed shortfall of circumbinary planets orbiting the shorter period binaries in the Kepler sample is a real effect.
    Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 03/2014; 444(2). · 5.52 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We present Rossiter-McLaughlin observations of WASP-13b and WASP-32b and determine the sky-projected angle between the normal of the planetary orbit and the stellar rotation axis ($\lambda$). WASP-13b and WASP-32b both have prograde orbits and are consistent with alignment with measured sky-projected angles of $\lambda={8^{\circ}}^{+13}_{-12}$ and $\lambda={-2^{\circ}}^{+17}_{-19}$, respectively. Both WASP-13 and WASP-32 have $T_{\mathrm{eff}}<6250$K and therefore these systems support the general trend that aligned planetary systems are preferentially found orbiting cool host stars. A Lomb-Scargle periodogram analysis was carried out on archival SuperWASP data for both systems. A statistically significant stellar rotation period detection (above 99.9\% confidence) was identified for the WASP-32 system with $P_{\mathrm{rot}}=11.6 \pm 1.0 $ days. This rotation period is in agreement with the predicted stellar rotation period calculated from the stellar radius, $R_{\star}$, and $v \sin i$ if a stellar inclination of $i_{\star}=90^{\circ}$ is assumed. With the determined rotation period, the true 3D angle between the stellar rotation axis and the planetary orbit, $\psi$, was found to be $\psi=11^{\circ} \pm 14$. We conclude with a discussion on the alignment of systems around cool host stars with $T_{\mathrm{eff}}<6150$K by calculating the tidal dissipation timescale. We find that systems with short tidal dissipation timescales are preferentially aligned and systems with long tidal dissipation timescales have a broad range of obliquities.
    Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 03/2014; 440(4). · 5.52 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The results of a search for eclipsing Am star binaries using photometry from the SuperWASP survey are presented. The light curves of 1742 Am stars fainter than V = 8.0 were analysed for the presences of eclipses. A total of 70 stars were found to exhibit eclipses, with 66 having sufficient observations to enable orbital periods to be determined and 28 of which are newly identified eclipsing systems. Also presented are spectroscopic orbits for 5 of the systems. The number of systems and the period distribution is found to be consistent with that identified in previous radial velocity surveys of `classical' Am stars.
    02/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: We report the discovery of the planets WASP-20b and WASP-28b along with measurements of their sky-projected orbital obliquities. WASP-20b is an inflated, Saturn-mass planet (0.31 $M_{\rm Jup}$; 1.46 $R_{\rm Jup}$) in a 4.9-day, near-aligned ($\lambda = 8.1 \pm 3.6^\circ$) orbit around CD-24 102 ($V$=10.7; F9). WASP-28b is an inflated, Jupiter-mass planet (0.91 $M_{\rm Jup}$; 1.21 $R_{\rm Jup}$) in a 3.4-day, near-aligned ($\lambda = 8 \pm 18^\circ$) orbit around a $V$=12, F8 star. As intermediate-mass planets in short orbits around aged, cool stars ($7^{+2}_{-1}$ Gyr for WASP-20 and $5^{+3}_{-2}$ Gyr for WASP-28; both with $T_{\rm eff}$ < 6250 K), their orbital alignment is consistent with the hypothesis that close-in giant planets are scattered into eccentric orbits with random alignments, which are then circularised and aligned with their stars' spins via tidal dissipation.
    02/2014;

Publication Stats

1k Citations
531.59 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2013–2014
    • The University of Warwick
      • Department of Physics
      Coventry, England, United Kingdom
    • Queens University of Charlotte
      New York, United States
  • 2000–2013
    • Queen's University Belfast
      • Astrophysics Research Centre (ARC)
      Béal Feirste, N Ireland, United Kingdom
  • 2010
    • University of Geneva
      • Department of Astronomy
      Genève, Geneva, Switzerland
  • 2007
    • Queen's University
      Kingston, Ontario, Canada
  • 2002
    • University of St Andrews
      • School of Physics and Astronomy
      Saint Andrews, Scotland, United Kingdom
  • 2001
    • Armagh Observatory
      Armagh, N Ireland, United Kingdom
  • 1997
    • Universidad de la República Mexicana
      Matamoros de la Laguna, Coahuila, Mexico