Michael Endl

University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas, United States

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Publications (228)879.59 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Anglada-Escudé and Tuomi question the statistical rigor of our analysis while ignoring the stellar activity aspects that we present. Although we agree that improvements in multiparametric radial velocity (RV) modeling are necessary for the detection of Earth-mass planets, the key physical points we raised were not challenged. We maintain that activity on Gliese 581 induces RV shifts that were interpreted as exoplanets. Copyright © 2015, American Association for the Advancement of Science.
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    ABSTRACT: We present an in-depth analysis of stellar activity and its effects on radial velocity (RV) for the M2 dwarf GJ 176 based on spectra taken over 10 years from the High Resolution Spectrograph on the Hobby-Eberly Telescope. These data are supplemented with spectra from previous observations with the HIRES and HARPS spectrographs, and V- and R-band photometry taken over 6 years at the Dyer and Fairborn observatories. Previous studies of GJ 176 revealed a super-Earth exoplanet in an 8.8-day orbit. However, the velocities of this star are also known to be contaminated by activity, particularly at the 39-day stellar rotation period. We have examined the magnetic activity of GJ 176 using the sodium I D lines, which have been shown to be a sensitive activity tracer in cool stars. In addition to rotational modulation, we see evidence of a long-term trend in our Na I D index, which may be part of a long-period activity cycle. The sodium index is well correlated with our RVs, and we show that this activity trend drives a corresponding slope in RV. Interestingly, the rotation signal remains in phase in photometry, but not in the spectral activity indicators. We interpret this phenomenon as the result of one or more large spot complexes or active regions which dominate the photometric variability, while the spectral indices are driven by the overall magnetic activity across the stellar surface. In light of these results, we discuss the potential for correcting activity signals in the RVs of M dwarfs.
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    ABSTRACT: Precise radial velocities from the Anglo-Australian Telescope confirm the presence of a rare short-period planet around the K0 giant HD 121056. An independent two-planet solution using the AAT data shows that the inner planet has P=89.1+/-0.1 days, and m sin i=1.35+/-0.17 Mjup. These data also confirm the planetary nature of the outer companion, with m sin i=3.9+/-0.6 Mjup and a=2.96+/-0.16 AU. HD 121056 is the most-evolved star to host a confirmed multiple-planet system, and is a valuable example of a giant star hosting both a short-period and a long-period planet.
    The Astrophysical Journal 12/2014; 800(1). DOI:10.1088/0004-637X/800/1/74 · 6.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Hot Jupiter systems provide unique observational constraints for migration models in multiple systems and binaries. We report on the discovery of the Kepler-424 (KOI-214) two-planet system, which consists of a transiting hot Jupiter (Kepler-424b) in a 3.31-d orbit accompanied by a more massive outer companion in an eccentric (e=0.3) 223-d orbit. The outer giant planet, Kepler-424c, is not detected to transit the host star. The masses of both planets and the orbital parameters for the second planet were determined using precise radial velocity (RV) measurements from the Hobby-Eberly Telescope (HET) and its High Resolution Spectrograph (HRS). In stark contrast to smaller planets, hot Jupiters are predominantly found to be lacking any nearby additional planets, the appear to be "lonely" (e.g. Steffen et al.~2012). This might be a consequence of a highly dynamical past of these systems. The Kepler-424 planetary system is a system with a hot Jupiter in a multiple system, similar to upsilon Andromedae. We also present our results for Kepler-422 (KOI-22), Kepler-77 (KOI-127; Gandolfi et al.~2013), Kepler-43 (KOI-135; Bonomo et al.~2012), and Kepler-423 (KOI-183). These results are based on spectroscopic data collected with the Nordic Optical Telescope (NOT), the Keck 1 telescope and HET. For all systems we rule out false positives based on various follow-up observations, confirming the planetary nature of these companions. We performed a comparison with planetary evolutionary models which indicate that these five hot Jupiters have a heavy elements content between 20 and 120 M_Earth.
    The Astrophysical Journal 09/2014; 795(2). DOI:10.1088/0004-637X/795/2/151 · 6.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Kepler-91b is a rare example of a transiting hot Jupiter around a red giant star, providing the possibility to study the formation and composition of hot Jupiters under different conditions compared to main-sequence stars. However, the planetary nature of Kepler-91b, which was confirmed using phase-curve variations by Lillo-Box et al., was recently called into question based on a re-analysis of Kepler data. We have obtained ground-based radial velocity observations from the Hobby-Eberly Telescope and unambiguously confirm the planetary nature of Kepler-91b by simultaneously modeling the Kepler and radial velocity data. The star exhibits temporally correlated noise due to stellar granulation which we model as a Gaussian Process. We hypothesize that it is this noise component that led previous studies to suspect Kepler-91b to be a false positive. Our work confirms the conclusions presented by Lillo-Box et al. that Kepler-91b is a 0.73+/-0.13 Mjup planet orbiting a red giant star.
    The Astrophysical Journal 08/2014; 800(1). DOI:10.1088/0004-637X/800/1/46 · 6.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The CoRoT satellite has provided high-precision photometric light curves for more than 163,000 stars and found several hundreds of transiting systems compatible with a planetary scenario. If ground-based velocimetric observations are the best way to identify the actual planets among many possible configurations of eclipsing binary systems, recent transit surveys have shown that it is not always within reach of the radial-velocity detection limits. In this paper, we present a transiting exoplanet candidate discovered by CoRoT whose nature cannot be established from ground-based observations, and where extensive analyses are used to validate the planet scenario. They are based on observing constraints from radial-velocity spectroscopy, adaptive optics imaging and the CoRoT transit shape, as well as from priors on stellar populations, planet and multiple stellar systems frequency. We use the fully Bayesian approach developed in the PASTIS analysis software, and conclude that the planet scenario is at least 1400 times more probable than any other false positive scenario. The primary star is a metallic solar-like dwarf, with Ms = 1.099+-0.049 Msun and Rs = 1.136 (+0.038,-0.090) Rsun . The validated planet has a radius of Rp = 4.88 (+0.17,-0.39) RE and mass less than 49 ME. Its mean density is smaller than 2.56 g/cm^3 and orbital period is 9.7566+-0.0012 days. This object, called CoRoT-22 b, adds to a large number of validated Kepler planets. These planets do not have a proper measurement of the mass but allow statistical characterization of the exoplanet population.
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    ABSTRACT: This work is part of an ongoing project which aims to detect terrestrial planets in our neighbouring star system $\alpha$ Centauri using the Doppler method. Owing to the small angular separation between the two components of the $\alpha$ Cen AB binary system, the observations will to some extent be contaminated with light coming from the other star. We are accurately determining the amount of contamination for every observation by measuring the relative strengths of the H-$\alpha$ and NaD lines. Furthermore, we have developed a modified version of a well established Doppler code that is modelling the observations using two stellar templates simultaneously. With this method we can significantly reduce the scatter of the radial velocity measurements due to spectral cross-contamination and hence increase our chances of detecting the tiny signature caused by potential Earth-mass planets. After correcting for the contamination we achieve radial velocity precision of $\sim 2.5\,\mathrm{m\,s^{-1}}$ for a given night of observations. We have also applied this new Doppler code to four southern double-lined spectroscopic binary systems (HR159, HR913, HR7578, HD181958) and have successfully recovered radial velocities for both components simultaneously.
    International Journal of Astrobiology 07/2014; 14(02). DOI:10.1017/S1473550414000317 · 0.83 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The M dwarf Gliese 581 is believed to host four planets, including one (GJ 581d) near the habitable zone that could possibly support liquid water on its surface if it is a rocky planet. The detection of another habitable-zone planet-GJ 581 g-is disputed, as its significance depends on the eccentricity assumed for d. Analyzing stellar activity using the Hα line, we measure a stellar rotation period of 130 ± 2 days and a correlation for Hα modulation with radial velocity. Correcting for activity greatly diminishes the signal of GJ 581d (to 1.5σ) while significantly boosting the signals of the other known super-Earth planets. GJ 581d does not exist, but is an artifact of stellar activity which, when incompletely corrected, causes the false detection of planet g.
    Science 07/2014; 345(6195). DOI:10.1126/science.1253253 · 31.48 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We present the discovery of a candidate multiply-transiting system, the first one found in the CoRoT mission. Two transit-like features with periods of 5.11 and 11.76d are detected in the CoRoT light curve, around a main sequence K1V star of r=15.1. If the features are due to transiting planets around the same star, these would correspond to objects of 3.7$\pm$0.4 and 5.0$\pm$0.5 R_earth respectively. Several radial velocities serve to provide an upper limit of 5.7 M_earth for the 5.11~d signal, and to tentatively measure a mass of 28$^{+11}_{-11}$ M_earth for the object transiting with a 11.76~d period. These measurements imply low density objects, with a significant gaseous envelope. The detailed analysis of the photometric and spectroscopic data serve to estimate the probability that the observations are caused by transiting Neptune-sized planets as $>$26$\times$ higher than a blend scenario involving only one transiting planet, and $>$900$\times$ higher than a scenario involving two blends and no planets. The radial velocities show a long term modulation that might be attributed to a 1.5 M_jup planet orbiting at 1.8~A.U. from the host, but more data are required to determine the precise orbital parameters of this companion.
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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. DOI:10.1051/0004-6361/201323102 · 4.48 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) will search for planets transiting bright and nearby stars. TESS has been selected by NASA for launch in 2017 as an Astrophysics Explorer mission. The spacecraft will be placed into a highly elliptical 13.7-day orbit around the Earth. During its two-year mission, TESS will employ four wide-field optical CCD cameras to monitor at least 200,000 main-sequence dwarf stars with I<13 for temporary drops in brightness caused by planetary transits. Each star will be observed for an interval ranging from one month to one year, depending mainly on the star's ecliptic latitude. The longest observing intervals will be for stars near the ecliptic poles, which are the optimal locations for follow-up observations with the James Webb Space Telescope. Brightness measurements of preselected target stars will be recorded every 2 min, and full frame images will be recorded every 30 min. TESS stars will be 10-100 times brighter than those surveyed by the pioneering Kepler mission. This will make TESS planets easier to characterize with follow-up observations. TESS is expected to find more than a thousand planets smaller than Neptune, including dozens that are comparable in size to the Earth. Public data releases will occur every four months, inviting immediate community-wide efforts to study the new planets. The TESS legacy will be a catalog of the nearest and brightest stars hosting transiting planets, which will endure as highly favorable targets for detailed investigations.
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    ABSTRACT: Approximately half of the extrasolar planets (exoplanets) with radii less than four Earth radii are in orbits with short periods. Despite their sheer abundance, the compositions of such planets are largely unknown. The available evidence suggests that they range in composition from small, high-density rocky planets to low-density planets consisting of rocky cores surrounded by thick hydrogen and helium gas envelopes. Here we report the metallicities (that is, the abundances of elements heavier than hydrogen and helium) of more than 400 stars hosting 600 exoplanet candidates, and find that the exoplanets can be categorized into three populations defined by statistically distinct (∼4.5σ) metallicity regions. We interpret these regions as reflecting the formation regimes of terrestrial-like planets (radii less than 1.7 Earth radii), gas dwarf planets with rocky cores and hydrogen-helium envelopes (radii between 1.7 and 3.9 Earth radii) and ice or gas giant planets (radii greater than 3.9 Earth radii). These transitions correspond well with those inferred from dynamical mass estimates, implying that host star metallicity, which is a proxy for the initial solids inventory of the protoplanetary disk, is a key ingredient regulating the structure of planetary systems.
    Nature 05/2014; 509(7502):593-5. DOI:10.1038/nature13254 · 42.35 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Dynamical information along with survey data on metallicity and in some cases age have been used recently by some authors to search for candidates of stars that were born in the cluster where the Sun formed. We have acquired high-resolution, high signal-to-noise ratio spectra for 30 of these objects to determine, using detailed elemental abundance analysis, if they could be true solar siblings. Only two of the candidates are found to have solar chemical composition. Updated modeling of the stars' past orbits in a realistic Galactic potential reveals that one of them, HD 162826, satisfies both chemical and dynamical conditions for being a sibling of the Sun. Measurements of rare-element abundances for this star further confirm its solar composition, with the only possible exception of Sm. Analysis of long-term high-precision radial velocity data rules out the presence of hot Jupiters and confirms that this star is not in a binary system. We find that chemical tagging does not necessarily benefit from studying as many elements as possible but instead from identifying and carefully measuring the abundances of those elements that show large star-to-star scatter at a given metallicity. Future searches employing data products from ongoing massive astrometric and spectroscopic surveys can be optimized by acknowledging this fact.
    The Astrophysical Journal 05/2014; 787(2):154. DOI:10.1088/0004-637X/787/2/154 · 6.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We review the possible formation and orbital stability of Earth-mass or super Earth-mass planets around either of the stars Alpha Centauri A or B and describe a program at Mt John University Observatory using the Doppler method that aims to detect such planets. From New Zealand, we are able to observe the Alpha Centauri system year-round. This is critical in order to acquire data of sufficient quantity and phase coverage to detect the orbit of a terrestrial-mass planet in the habitable zone. Our observations are being made at high resolution (R = 70,000) and high signal-to-noise with the Hercules vacuum echelle spectrograph attached to the 1-m McLellan telescope by a 25-m long optical fibre and using an iodine cell. We discuss the velocity precision and instrumental stability required for success and outline the progress of the observations so far. At present we are collecting about 10,000 observations of each star, A and B, per year with a typical precision of 2.5 m/s per observation.
    Proceedings of the International Astronomical Union 03/2014; 8(S293). DOI:10.1017/S1743921313012532
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    ABSTRACT: The "holy grail" in planet hunting is the detection of an Earth-analog: a planet with similar mass as the Earth and an orbit inside the habitable zone. If we can find such an Earth-analog around one of the stars in the immediate solar neighborhood, we could potentially even study it in such great detail to address the question of its potential habitability. Several groups have focused their planet detection efforts on the nearest stars. Our team is currently performing an intensive observing campaign on the alpha Centauri system using the Hercules spectrograph at the 1-m McLellan telescope at Mt John University Observatory (MJUO) in New Zealand. The goal of our project is to obtain such a large number of radial velocity measurements with sufficiently high temporal sampling to become sensitive to signals of Earth-mass planets in the habitable zones of the two stars in this binary system. Over the past years, we have collected more than 45,000 spectra for both stars combined. These data are currently processed by an advanced version of our radial velocity reduction pipeline, which eliminates the effect of spectral cross-contamination. Here we present simulations of the expected detection sensitivity to low-mass planets in the habitable zone by the Hercules program for various noise levels. We also discuss our expected sensitivity to the purported Earth-mass planet in an 3.24-d orbit announced by Dumusque et al.~(2012).
    International Journal of Astrobiology 03/2014; 14(02). DOI:10.1017/S1473550414000081 · 0.83 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We report on the masses, sizes, and orbits of the planets orbiting 22 Kepler stars. There are 49 planet candidates around these stars, including 42 detected through transits and 7 revealed by precise Doppler measurements of the host stars. Based on an analysis of the Kepler brightness measurements, along with high-resolution imaging and spectroscopy, Doppler spectroscopy, and (for 11 stars) asteroseismology, we establish low false-positive probabilities for all of the transiting planets (41 of 42 have a false-positive probability under 1%), and we constrain their sizes and masses. Most of the transiting planets are smaller than 3X the size of Earth. For 16 planets, the Doppler signal was securely detected, providing a direct measurement of the planet's mass. For the other 26 planets we provide either marginal mass measurements or upper limits to their masses and densities; in many cases we can rule out a rocky composition. We identify 6 planets with densities above 5 g/cc, suggesting a mostly rocky interior for them. Indeed, the only planets that are compatible with a purely rocky composition are smaller than ~2 R_earth. Larger planets evidently contain a larger fraction of low-density material (H, He, and H2O).
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    ABSTRACT: Because Kepler has established the preponderance of small, potentially habitable exoplanets, current and upcoming radial velocity (RV) surveys concentrate on finding Earth-mass planets orbiting stars near enough to facilitate detailed follow-up observations. Particularly attractive targets are cool, low mass "M dwarf" stars. Their low masses (and thus higher planetary RV amplitudes) and close-in habitable zones facilitate relatively quick detection of low mass planets in the habitable zone. However, the RV signals of such planets will be obscured by stellar magnetic activity, which is poorly understood for M stars. In an effort to improve the detection capabilities of the Hobby-Eberly Telescope M dwarf planet survey, I have conducted a detailed investigation of the magnetic behavior of our target stars. Here, I present techniques for identifying magnetic activity cycles and rotation periods for old, quiet M stars and evaluating their effects on RV measurements. I will discuss new insights into the magnetic behavior of these stars, and demonstrate some early results of correcting stellar activity in order to reveal exoplanet signals.
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    ABSTRACT: We report the detection of Jovian mass planets orbiting three nearby metal-poor thick disk stars. These discoveries were all made using precise radial velocity measurements from the High Resolution Spectrograph of the Hobby-Eberly Telescope. All of the planets are of Jovian mass or larger, with orbital periods ranging from about a year to over six years. HIP 14342 shows two planetary companions with orbital periods near a 2:1 resonance. The other planets detected orbit HIP 13366 and HIP 109384. All three of these stars are kinematic members of the galactic "thick disk", which is a population of stars with a larger vertical scale height and a larger velocity dispersion that the thin disk to which the Sun belongs. The thick disk stars are of lower total metallicity than the Sun, and are also chemically different than thin disk stars, having the abundances of their alpha-capture elements (e.g. O, Ne, Mg, Si, S, Ca, Ti) enhanced by 0.2 to 0.4 dex over those of thin disk stars of the same [Fe/H]. The majority of planets found among stars with [Fe/H] < ~-0.2 orbit thick disk stars, even though thin disk stars significantly outnumber thick disk stars in this metallicity range. Thus, the enhanced abundance of the alpha-capture elements, which are also key elements in the chemistry of planet-forming materials, may be responsible for the large fraction of low-metallicity thick-disk stars with planetary companions.
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    ABSTRACT: We announce the discovery of a ~2 Jupiter-mass planet in an eccentric 11-year orbit around the K7/M0 dwarf GJ 328. Our result is based on 10 years' worth of radial velocity (RV) data from the Hobby-Eberly and Harlan J. Smith telescopes at McDonald Observatory, and from the Keck Telescope at Mauna Kea. Our analysis of GJ 328's magnetic activity via the Na I D features reveals a long-period stellar activity cycle, which creates an additional signal in the star's RV curve with amplitude 6-10 m/s. After correcting for this stellar RV contribution, we see that the orbit of the planet is more eccentric than suggested by the raw RV data. GJ 328b is currently the most massive, longest-period planet discovered around a low-mass dwarf.
    The Astrophysical Journal 07/2013; 774(2). DOI:10.1088/0004-637X/774/2/147 · 6.28 Impact Factor
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    Kevin Gullikson, Michael Endl
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    ABSTRACT: With about 700 confirmed extrasolar planets, it is time to move beyond discovery and towards characterization. Perhaps the most basic parameter of an extrasolar planet is its mass; however, this is very difficult to determine if the planet does not transit the star. The radial velocity technique, still the most fruitful method of discovering planets in the solar neighborhood, can only determine a minimum planet mass. We investigate a method using the near-future IGRINS near infrared spectrograph to detect the orbital motion of the planet itself. We simulate several observations of a star with an orbiting planet, and search for the spectral signature of the planet by cross-correlating against planet model spectra. A detection appears as a strong peak in the cross-correlation function, and gives the radial velocity of the planet at the time of observation. This, combined with the motion of the star from traditional radial velocity planet search programs, can determine the actual planet mass. We find that the IGRINS instrument can detect the spectral signature from large planets on very close orbits (so-called Hot Jupiters), and that the detections can provide tight constraints on the true planet mass.
    Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific 07/2013; 125(930). DOI:10.1086/672272 · 3.23 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

4k Citations
879.59 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 1999–2015
    • University of Texas at Austin
      • Department of Astronomy
      Austin, Texas, United States
  • 1997–2012
    • University of Vienna
      • Department of Astrophysics
      Wien, Vienna, Austria
  • 2011
    • Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
      • Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory
      Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
  • 2010
    • University of Geneva
      Genève, Geneva, Switzerland
  • 2009
    • University of Canterbury
      Christchurch, Canterbury Region, New Zealand