Direct imaging confirmation and characterization of a dust-enshrouded candidate exoplanet orbiting Fomalhaut

Thayne Currie, John Debes, Timothy J. Rodigas, Adam Burrows, Yoichi Itoh, Misato Fukagawa, Scott J. Kenyon, Marc Kuchner, Soko Matsumura

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    103 Citations (Scopus)


    We present Subaru/IRCS J-band data for Fomalhaut and a (re) reduction of archival 2004-2006 HST/ACS data first presented by Kalas et al. We confirm the existence of a candidate exoplanet, Fomalhaut b, in both the 2004 and 2006 F606W data sets at a high signal-to-noise ratio. Additionally, we confirm the detection at F814W and present a new detection in F435W. Fomalhaut b's space motion may be consistent with it being in an apsidally aligned, non-debris ring-crossing orbit, although new astrometry is required for firmer conclusions. We cannot confirm that Fomalhaut b exhibits 0.7-0.8 mag variability cited as evidence for planet accretion or a semi-transient dust cloud. The new, combined optical spectral energy distribution and IR upper limits confirm that emission identifying Fomalhaut b originates from starlight scattered by small dust, but this dust is most likely associated with a massive body. The Subaru and IRAC/4.5 µm upper limits imply M <2 MJ, still consistent with the range of Fomalhaut b masses needed to sculpt the disk. Fomalhaut b is very plausibly "a planet identified from direct imaging" even if current images of it do not, strictly speaking, show thermal emission from a directly imaged planet.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article numberARTN L32
    Number of pages6
    JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 9 Nov 2012


    • companion
    • telescope
    • inclination
    • HR 8799 B
    • planetary system
    • MU-M
    • brown dwarfs
    • models
    • images
    • stars: individual: (Fomalhaut)
    • planetary systems
    • mass


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