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The spin-orbit alignment of the Fomalhaut planetary system probed by AMBER
mardi 14 avril 2009


PNG - 924.6 ko
Spectro-astrometric positions of Fomalhaut with AMBER.
AMBER spectro-astrometric positions in the continuum (a) and across the Brackett gamma absorption line (b). Colors refer to the wavelength bin. The signature of the rotating photosphere (c) is clearly detected and is compared to the debris disk and the planetary companion (d) imaged in the visible by Kalas et al. (2008).

Using the combination of spectral resolution and spatial resolution provided by the instrument AMBER on the VLTI, a European team led by J.-B. Le Bouquin from ESO has been able to obtain precise spectro-astrometric measurements across the Brackett gamma absorption line of the Fomalhaut stellar system. The achieved astrometric accuracy of 3 nano-arcsecond and the spectral resolution R=1500 from the AMBER/VLTI instrument allowed them to spatially and spectrally resolve the rotating photosphere. They found a position angle 65 +/- 3 degrees for the stellar rotation axis, perfectly perpendicular with the literature measurement for the disk position angle. This is the first time such test can be performed for a debris disk, and in a non-eclipsing system. Their observations validate the standard scenario for star and planet formation, in which the angular momentum of the planetary systems are expected to be collinear with the stellar spins.

More information
- The spin-orbit alignment of the Fomalhaut planetary system probed by optical long baseline interferometry
J.-B. LeBouquin, O. Absil, M. Benisty, F. Massi, A. Mérand, and S. Stefl 2009, A&A in press (astro-ph/0904.1688)





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