2017AB proposals

Click the title of each proposal to read the abstract

Science Collaboration Key Projects

PI name PI Institution

Contributing Institutions

Title Semesters 2017AB hours
(2m) (1m) (0.4m)
Brown, T.,

Mazeh, T.

LCO,

U. Tel Aviv

LCO, SUPA Using NRES to Validate and Characterize Exoplanets Found by TESS and Other Surveys 2017AB-2020A 450

We propose to address two outstanding questions concerning exoplanets, both requiring large new datasets: (1) What is the exoplanet mass/period distribution, in particular for the poorly-represented ``Hot Neptune`` and ``Warm Jupiter`` populations, and (2) Why are the orbital axes of some planets so strongly inclined to the rotational axes of their parent stars? To do this, we will combine intensive observations with
the new LCO- NRES spectrograph network with discovery data from the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS -- to be launched near the end of calendar 2017), and from existing space- and ground-based transiting planet discovery facilities.

Our proposed project will carry out all of LCO's observing commitments to the TESS mission, but will greatly extend the TESS sample in order to answer the above science questions, which are uniquely accessible to LCO-NRES. The project will run for 6 semesters, obtain repeated spectra of some 500 exoplanet host stars
and use a total of 12,700 observing hours, about half of which will come from the LCO Key Project pool. Our main activities will be to bring NRES up to its full potential as a global observing system, to develop software tools to enhance its scientific productivity, to carry out and analyze the needed observations for our science program, and to publish our scientific and technical results promptly.

Horne, K. St. Andrews U.

SUPA., LCO, ANU, SAAO

Echo Mapping of AGN Accretion Flows 2014A-2017AB 219 1450
Our goals are to measure black hole masses and quasar distances out to redshift ~2 by exploiting light travel time delays to resolve micro-arcsecond structure of accretion flows onto supermassive black holes in active galactic nuclei (AGN). LCOGT is the enabling technology for mass production AGN echo mapping, with FLOYDS for spectroscopy and the 1m scopes for imaging, providing long high-cadence lightcurves. Time delays from the lightcurves give us the radii of emission line and continuum regions around the accreting black hole. The emission-line widths and time delays (weeks-months) give us the black hole mass (Mbh). We will measure Mbh at high redshift by monitoring Hbeta+MgII for 10 AGN at z~0.35, MgII+CIV for 10 at z~1.6, and CIV for 2 lensed quasars at z=2-2.3. We then calibrate the Hbeta+MgII+CIV size-luminosity relations to find Mbh for thousands more AGN. To measure quasar distances, we will use the LCOGT 1m scopes for ugriz lightcurves and measure continuum delays (days) increasing from blue to red, thus probing the accretion disk T(R) profiles, measuring accretion rates (M dM/dt), and distances (D). With D for ~70 quasars out to z~2 we can independently probe the cosmic expansion history with different systematics and at higher redshifts than Type Ia supernovae. If NASA approves the Kepler 2 ecliptic plane survey, we will exploit the unique opportunity to target AGN in the K2 fields.
Howell, A. LCO LCO, NAOC, NOAO, ANU, TAU, UTexas The Global Supernova Project 2017AB-2020A 504 973
We propose a new 3 year Key Project to build a sample of 600 supernovae over 3 years to add to the approximately 450 supernovae from the first Supernova Key Project. Together this will be the largest low-redshift sample of supernovae ever obtained. The scientific objectives include: (1) studies to reveal the progenitors of SNe, particularly from early observations; (2) thorough studies of nearby SNe across all wavelengths; (3) building samples of exotic SNe; and (4) building statistically significant samples of SNe for comparison studies, host galaxy studies, rates, and luminosity functions.
Robertson, P. Penn State Univ. LCO High-Cadence Monitoring of the Sun's Coolest Neighbors 2017AB-2020A 100 1600

In 2017, the new near-IR Habitable-zone Planet Finder (HPF) spectrograph will begin surveying nearby mid-late M dwarfs for low-mass exoplanets. We propose to use the LCO network to acquire V- and i-band photometry of our HPF survey targets every night they are observable. These observations will facilitate the identification of rotation periods, magnetic cycles, and other activity phenomena, providing valuable insight into the magnetic fields of fully convective stars, and be crucial in the separation of Doppler exoplanet signals from activity-induced noise. Our targets are bright enough to be observed with any of the LCO telescopes, and distributed across the northern sky. Thus, our program takes maximal advantage of LCO`s flexibility, especially as the new northern and equatorial telescopes come online.

Shporer, A. Caltech LCO, ANU, SUPA, SAAO, IAC, UTexas, UHawaii Transiting Exoplanet Science with LCO - The Network Awakens 2017AB-2019A 60 680 486

LCO is becoming a one-stop shop for exoplanet observations. With the deployment of NRES it will be capable of obtaining both RVs to measure the orbit and photometry to measure the transit, all using a robotic telescope network. This is especially useful for observations of transiting planet candidates, confirming their planetary nature and measuring their orbit and mass, along with studying the systems architecture. Such observations are currently a bottleneck due to the lack of sufficient observing resources. We will use LCO to observe transiting planets identified by the Kepler, K2, KELT, HAT- South, and TESS surveys. We have identified 4 observing activities where LCO will make a significant contribution: In Part I we will detect transiting warm Jupiters, to study the inflated gas giant planet conundrum. In Part II we will observe transiting systems showing transit timing variations, to look for small planets in wide orbits, beyond the reach of the RV method. In Part III we will observe planet candidates orbiting bright and quiet stars which once confirmed will become prime targets for detailed characterization. In Part IV we will observe transit candidates to check whether the transit signal seen in the survey data is in fact a false positive originating from a deep eclipse on a nearby star diluted with the target in the wide PSF of the survey instrument. Each part is independent of the rest while combined they will make LCO a leading player in the exoplanets field.

Tsapras, Y. U. Heidelberg SUPA, LCO, NAOC ROME/REA - A three-color window to planets beyond the snow-line 2017AB-2020A

2298

Current planet formation theories predict that planets with semi-major axes between 1-10 AU should be abundant, yet they lie beyond the detection limits of most planet finding techniques. To this day, this important region of planetary parameter space remains largely unexplored. Discovering them is critical in understanding the physical processes that drive planet formation. - We propose a 3-year gravitational microlensing Key Project to discover new exoplanets in the cold outer regions of planetary systems, including free-floating planets and, potentially, planets around stellar remnants. Previous microlensing programs were limited in their ability to characterize source stars and could not obtain uninterrupted 24/7 observational coverage. We propose a novel approach that combines a multi-wavelength survey with reactive follow-up observations, and which relies on the unique capabilities of the global Las Cumbres Observatory (LCO) network and its newly deployed wider-field cameras. - We will achieve enhanced sensitivity to planets with smaller masses (less than 10 MEarth) by placing better constraints on the spectral type of the source stars and by employing software that optimizes light curve coverage during the most planet-sensitive sections of the microlensing event. We will thus be able to better constrain the physical properties of these new planets exclusively based on LCO data.

LCO, Inc.

PI Name PI Institution Title 2017AB hours
(2m) (1m) (0.4m)
Arcavi, I. LCO Searching for Optical Counterparts to Gravitational Waves 93    
We propose to use the LCO 2m telescopes to search for optical counterparts of gravitational waves (GWs), in order to identify their sources and maximize the science produced from the their detection. The number of galaxies containing 50% of the mass inside an aLIGO+Virgo error region during the current observing run is ~20-30. We will be able to visit all of these galaxies in a single night following a GW trigger, and then re- visit them for several consecutive nights. With this strategy, a large field of view is not required, but rather robotic rapidly-responding telescopes have the advantage. LCO, as the only operator of robotic 2m-class telescopes capable of rapid response in both hemispheres, and as a member of the LIGO followup collaboration, is ideal for carrying out this search. At this time, the overlap between the ongoing and the upcoming aLIGO +Virgo observing runs with LCO semester 2017AB is not fully known. We conservatively request time to follow one trigger (even with one event there is potential for a highly significant discovery). In future semesters, the GW detection range will increase but the size of the error-region will decrease, leaving the number of galaxies in the search region roughly the same. The current semester thus provides an opportunity to continue to develop the expertise and techniques that will allow LCO to be an important contributor to GW counterpart searches also when aLIGO and Virgo reach their full sensitivity.
Matheson, T. NOAO Establishing a Network of Next Generation SED standards with DA White Dwarfs   48  
In our goal to establish a network of 18th mag flux standards with absolute colors anchored to sub-percent accuracy, we have combined panchromatic multi-band photometry of hot DA while dwarfs from HST (eliminating the terrestrial atmosphere) with ground-based spectroscopy from which the atmospheric parameters of the stars can be gleaned. We test the notion that the pure hydrogen and fully-radiative atmospheres of these stars can be modeled to high accuracy and reliability by contrasting modeled and measured colors (while simultaneously solving for line of sight reddening). Our early analysis indicates that color accuracies of 0.005 mag are attainable. We have in hand data for about two dozen such stars. To validate them as standard stars, it is also critical to demonstrate that they do not vary with time. We propose to continue to use LCO for photometric monitoring of these white dwarfs to assess their variability. If all goes well, this semester should conclude our study of this set of stars.
Gomez, E. LCO Characterisation of the eclipsing body orbiting young star PDS 110     35
PDS-110 is a young, disk-hosting F-type star that showed two similar ~30% eclipses in 2008 and 2011. The eclipses are interpreted as being caused by the periodic transit of a low-mass dust-encircled secondary on an inclined orbit. Rapid fluctuations seen superimposed on the slowly varying three week eclipse suggesting complex structure - possibly exorings - in the eclipsing material. This unique event could therefore be the first periodic eclipse of a forming substellar object. However, high-precision photometry across multiple wavelengths is needed to (i) confirm the eclipses are indeed periodic and constrain the orbital period, (ii) observe and analyse the rapid photometric fluctuations, and (iii) determine the nature (e.g. grain size) of the intervening material. We request 34.9 hours of LCO time on the 0.4m telescope network to obtain 50 days (2017/08/27 - 2017/10/16) of detailed continuous photometry of PDS 110 during the next predicted eclipse on 2017/09/20 +/-10 days. The challenging RA of PDS 110 at this time means that only LCO, with its wide longitudinal coverage, is capable of making such observations.
Valenti, S. UC. Davis Explosion Physics and Progenitors from a One Day Cadence Supernova Search 30 10 10
In the early hours to days after explosion, supernovae (SNe) provide unique clues on the nature of their progenitor stars and the physics of their explosion mechanisms. Motivated by the need to discover and fully characterize SNe within the first day from the explosion, we have begun a pointed one-day cadence SN search focused on nearby (D<40 Mpc) galaxies with one 0.4m telescope at CTIO. This program, called DLT40, will discover ~5-10 SNe per year within a day from their explosion, along with ~10 further SNe per year at later times and a zoo of other transients and variable stars. Here we request follow-up 0.4m and 1m imaging to confirm our incoming SNe, and FLOYDS spectroscopy to classify the most promising objects. Young and nearby interesting transients will eventually be fed to the Global Supernova Program (LCO key project) for a complete follow-up and full characterization.
Arcavi, I. LCO Classification and Followup of Tidal Disruption Events 80 54  
Tidal Disruption Events (TDEs), the disruptions of stars by supermassive black holes (SMBHs), albeit rare, are now being discovered in real time by optical transient surveys. TDEs exhibit a continuum of H and He spectral line strengths and they strongly prefer post-starburst host galaxies. These properties have aided in the identification of new events, yet the physical mechanisms responsible for the observed emission and peculiar host-galaxy preference are not yet understood. LCO observations can help nail down the multi-wavelength properties of TDE emission in conjunction with our approved radio, UV and X-ray observing programs. We have started running an expanded version of our dedicated TDE survey (called aSEATiDE), which will monitor 2500 post-starburst galaxies once a week for three years to search for TDEs. Here we propose to continue our successful LCO TDE classification and followup program which has so far collected valuable data on several confirmed TDEs and has vetted many TDE candidates from various surveys. We aim to continue to vet TDE candidates and to collect well-sampled photometry and spectroscopy of three new confirmed TDEs to be discovered during 2017AB by aSEATiDE and public surveys such as ASAS-SN, OGLE and Gaia. Continuing to discover and follow new TDEs will help map their diversity, a first step towards constraining their physics and enabling their use as a new tool to study otherwise quiescent SMBHs.
Hebb, L. Hobart & William Smith Mapping Magnetic Fields on the K-dwarf planet host, HAT-P-11     30
Understanding magnetic fields is essential for understanding low mass stars and the environment in which their planets reside. This proposal is part of a larger effort to address this question on multiple fronts. We have performed a detailed modeling of the Kepler short cadence light curve of the transiting planet host star, HAT-P-11, which shows small in-transit brightness variations due to the planet crossing in front of starspots on the surface of the host star. Our modeling has shown that small-scale star spots exist in well-defined latitude bands like they do on the Sun. However, there are larger and more numerous spots on HAT-P-11 than on the Sun even though both stars have similar 30day rotation periods. To explore the relationship between the visible starspots and their corresponding magnetic fields, we have been allocated time on the NARVAL spectrograph to obtain spectropolarimetric observations of this same target over 2 months from June 1 - July 31, 2017. With this proposal, we request nightly, multi- band time series photometry of HAT-P-11 from June 1-July 31, 2017 to complement the spectropolarimetry. These data are necessary for obtaining magnetic field maps from the spectropolarimetry data using the Zeeman-Doppler imaging technique.
Shahbaz, T. IAC The strength of the magnetic field in a redback millisecond pulsar   4  
The recent transformation of J1023+0038 from a rotation-powered millisecond pulsar back to an accretion-powered low-mass X-ray binary, provides a unique opportunity to study accretion processes at low X-ray luminosities. The X-ray light curves of show mode-switching behaviour between different luminosity states. The detection of X-ray pulsations during the "active" state implies that matter is being channelled onto the neutron star's magnetic poles. Our optical ULTRACAM observations have revealed, for the first time, similar behaviour, and hence it is assumed that optical variability also arises from channelled accretion. We aim to test this hypothesis by measuring the circular polarised light, which is the signature of magnetic pole accretion. For this we require circular VLT spectro-polarimetry (already awarded 3.5 hrs) AND simultaneous photometry (to isolate the flares). By making a comparison with magnetic cataclysmic variables models, we will determine the magnetic field strength of the neutron star.
Street, R. LCO Open Access Microlensing 23 44  
Though microlensing is a powerful technique for exploring populations of faint or distant objects - e.g brown dwarfs, planets, compact objects - it has, until now, been confined to a pencil beam towards the Galactic Bulge almost entirely. This is changing with the advent of very wide-angle, higher cadence (surveys with limiting magnitudes of I~20mag. The first of these surveys, the Gaia mission, is already producing microlensing discoveries, including binary lens events and we propose to provide photometric and spectroscopic follow-up observations to properly classify these discoveries and enable the properties of the lens to be determined. This proposal will also serve as a pathfinder towards the upcoming high-volume surveys ZTF and LSST.
McCully, C. LCO Image Subtraction Templates for Supernovae 15 81  
To unlock the full scientific potential of the LCO supernova (SN) data set, accurate photometry is a necessity. For most of the SN sample, this requires removing host galaxy contamination by subtracting supernova-free template images from the original observations. Here, we propose to obtain reference images for SNe discovered in the third and final year of the SN Key project. With the data from this proposal, we will be able to build quality SN light curves and measure SN host galaxy properties. This will enable a variety of SN science, including SN Ia cosmology, SN companion shocking, resolving the worrying difference in corrected luminosities seen in SNe Ia in different galaxy types, and probing the physics behind the explosions of massive stars.
Licandro, J. IAC Monitoring the activity of comets in a near-Earth asteroidal orbit 5 5  
Fernandez & Sosa (2015) found that there is a small group of near-Earth Jupiter family comets (NEJFCs) moving in quite stable orbits over time scales of 50.000 yr (highly or moderately asteroidal orbits) with an unlikely origin in the known comet reservoirs: the transneptunian belt and the Oort Cloud. These objects could be considered as the near- Earth counterparts of the main-belt comets. Observations of NEJFC 249P/LINEAR show that it displays an extremely low activity about one or two orders of magnitude smaller than those of typical NEJFC (Fernández et al. 2017), suggesting that this object is different to normal JFCs. We propose to monitor de activity of other 2 NEJFC of the group of NEJFCs in stable orbits, 189P/NEAT, 217P/LINEAR, during their 2017 perihelion passage with the aim to characterize the activity of this population of comets. We propose to obtain r’ and g’ images of both objects with the 2m and 1m telescopes along the semester.
Palle, E. IAC Photometric Followup of Red Dots targets   50  
We propose to use the 1-m and 0.4-m telescopes of the LCO network to obtain precise photometric measurements (UBV, once every 12 hours), contemporaneous to very high precision Doppler measurements obtained with the HARPS spectrograph over 100 nights in a row. This already approved radial velocity survey is dedicated to search for extra-solar planets orbiting around three stars within 5 pc of the Earth. This project is a continuation of the Pale Red Dot campaign responsible of finding the closest exoplanet candidate to Earth to date, Proxima b. Photometric multi-band monitoring is needed to filter out stellar variability mimicking the signal of an exoplanet on the same time-scales. As in the case in the discovery of the exoplanet candidate around Proxima Centauri, regular sampling over 100 nights with HARPS and LCO will help remove all such ambiguities.
Siverd, R. LCO Bright Transiting Planets in the Solar Neighborhood 30 80 120
Transiting exoplanets with bright host stars are scientifically very productive because they provide a unique opportunity to accurately measure physical system parameters (mass, radius, temperature, composition). However, only a handful of the known transiting systems are bright enough for detailed characterization. Wide-field photometric transit surveys are well-suited to discovery of these systems but require follow-up observations to vet candidates and obtain high-precision light curves. The KELT project is a wide-field transit survey that targets FGK stars of V~7.5-11 mag. Now in its 13th observing season, KELT has published numerous discoveries from its Northern and Southern telescopes using follow-up data from LCO with more in preparation. The Southern LCO nodes have been especially critical as KELT has relatively fewer partners in the South. As our time baseline has grown, new candidates have emerged with longer periods (10 - 20 days). Vetting these effectively warrants broad longitude coverage. We propose to continue and enhance this successful program (in particular by exploiting the 0.4- and 1.0-meter telescopes for multi-site observations) to obtain high-precision photometry of promising candidates and discover new, bright exoplanets of high scientific value.
Lister, T. LCO Multicolor photometry of IR-selected NEOs   126  
Asteroids are a valuable record of the origin and evolution of the Solar System and studying their physical nature, formation, and evolution is fundamental to our understanding of planet formation and the past and current dynamics at work in the Solar System. Asteroids are subject to a range of physical processes including gravitational and rotational forces, collisions, granular and regolith dynamics, thermal processing of absorbed sunlight, and other non-gravitational effects. Near Earth Objects (NEOs) are our closest asteroidal neighbors and research into them is important not only for understanding the Solar System’s origin and evolution, but also to understand and protect human society from potential impacts. Understanding the origin and evolution of the NEO population requires a well-characterized sample much larger than is currently available. The wealth of infrared (IR) asteroid data now available from NEOWISE and Spitzer can be combined with multicolor optical data obtained over a number of visits. This allows the derivation of accurate albedos, diameters, and phase curves, allowing a large number of additional important physical parameters to be derived. This proposal will use the LCO telescope network to create a large sample of well-characterized NEOs with optical and IR data that can be used to critically test the physics of small bodies and the evolution of the NEO population.
Sand, D. Texas Tech DLT40+: A One Day Cadence Supernova Search with the LCO 0.4m Network     100
In the early hours to days after explosion, supernovae (SNe) provide clues to how they explode, and what their progenitor star systems were. Motivated by the need to discover, and study, SNe within the first day of explosion, we have begun a one-day cadence SN search of nearby galaxies (D<40 Mpc) with a CTIO PROMPT telescope -- the program is expected to find ~5-10 SNe per year within a day of explosion. We see an opportunity, however, in instead using the world-wide LCO 0.4m network as our discovery engine to include both the Southern and Northern hemispheres, and to mitigate weather and instrument losses. A ‘DLT40+’ utilizing the growing LCO 0.4m network (especially as the number of sites expands) could in principle find nearly all of the SNe hosted by massive galaxy hosts with D<40 Mpc for years to come. In this proposal we request 300 hours of 0.4m queue time in order to build the necessary software infrastructure for our search. If successful, we are likely purchase a large chunk of 0.4m time in the future for our program.
Lister, T. LCO LCO NEO Follow-up Network 10 148 97
Near Earth Objects (NEOs) are our closest neighbors and research into them is important not only for understanding the Solar Systems’ origin and evolution, but also to understand and protect human society from potential impacts. NEOs originate in collisions between bodies in the main asteroid belt and have found their way into near- Earth space via complex dynamical interactions. Understanding these interactions, the populations and the orbital element distribution requires accurate orbits and complete samples for the NEO population, in order to properly debias the sample and correctly model the NEO population. Our previous programs of NEO follow-up on the 2-m, 1-m & 0.4-m networks have tracked and confirmed over a thousand new NEOs (out of ~15,500 total), primarily from the Catalina (CSS) and PanSTARRS1 (PS1) surveys. We wish to confirm and characterize new NEOs discovered by the feeder surveys (PS1/2, CSS, NEOWISE and ATLAS) and obtain light curves, determine rotation periods and search for satellite mutual events in radar-targeted NEOs. Confirming astrometry and photometry for new NEOWISE candidates is particularly important as this IR survey is unbiased to low-albedo objects allowing a cleaner sample but requires the follow-up to confirm NEOs and provide optical fluxes to derive the albedos. This proposal requests 278 hours of 1-m time, 187 hours of 0.4-m time (to follow brighter, Northern targets) and 10 hours of 2-m FTN time to begin testing spectroscopic NEO follow-up.
Greenstreet, S. LCO Detection of the Yarkovsky effect for a selection of near-Earth asteroids   100  
The Yarkovsky effect is a non-gravitational force acting on small solar system bodies caused by the anisotropic re-emission of absorbed radiation in the thermal wavelengths. The result is a force not aligned with the Sun-body direction, producing an acceleration that mainly manifests in a change in semimajor axis with time. The amount of Yarkovsky acceleration depends on several physical properties, such as the asteroid spin state, size, mass, and thermal properties, to which detection of the effect can give important constraints. The effect is also important for understanding the transportation of asteroids and meteorites into near-Earth space from the main belt, producing the near-Earth objects (NEOs) and for the formation and evolution of asteroid families. Determining and modeling the Yarkovsky effect can be critical for accurate prediction of asteroid trajectories and even for impact hazard assessment. The Yarkovsky acceleration accumulates as a quadratic effect in the mean anomaly with the time span of the dataset and therefore can be detected from fits to astrometric measurements once the orbit is well constrained. This means that a small number of high quality, timely astrometric measurements can reveal deviations from a gravity-only trajectory, making the Yarkovsky signal detectable. We propose to use the LCO Network to perform astrometric measurements on a subset of NEOs that have the greatest predicted chance of producing a detectable Yarkovsky signal.

National Optical Astronomy Observatory

PI Name PI Institution Title 2017AB hours
(2m) (1m) (0.4m)
Bodewits, D. U. Maryland Monitoring of comet 41P for activity trends and out- burst   144  

Comet activity varies as different parts of the nucleus are illuminated by sun light, tracing het- erogeneities. Comet 41P will pass Earth very closely this Spring, and is therefore a target of high scientific interest. LCO provides the unique opportunity to acquire high-quality, high-cadence pho- tometry of comets, obtained at uniform-cadence with the same instrument. We request 144 h of observing time on the LCOs 1-m telescopes to reveal rotational, seasonal, and evolutionary changes in the comet’s activity. We will acquire 2-day sampling of its dust (r’) and gas (g’), and will trigger a follow-up program when we detect evidence of outbursts. This dataset will allow us to develop, test, and refine algorithms for the automated detection of outbursts in LSST data, which will be crucial to interpret comet light curves amid the vast amount of data that the survey will produce. 41P’s apparition provides a proxy for a broad range of observing conditions. We will use this program to prototype an early warning system to detect small outbursts, and to activate rapid follow-up observations.

Hartman, J. Princeton Confirming and Characterizing Transiting Planets from HATNet and HATSouth with LCOGT   300  

Transiting planets around bright stars are key objects for exploring the physical properties of planets outside the Solar System. The US-based HATNet and HATSouth surveys are leading efforts for discovering and characterizing these planets. Candidate planets that are identified by the surveys must be confirmed through high-precision photometric and spectroscopic follow-up observations. Here we propose to use the Sinistro imagers and NRES spectrographs on the LCOGT 1m network to carry out these observations for dozens of candidates, which will contribute to the discovery and characterization of ∼ 15 new well characterized planets. This effort will focus on confirming Neptune-size planets, long period planets, and planets around M dwarfs, with the goal of expanding the sample of such objects known around bright stars. The planets discovered through this effort will be amenable to detailed follow-up studies, such as transmission spectroscopy with JWST.

Yee, J. SAO Followup of High-Magnification Spitzer Microlensing Events   200  

We will use the rapid-response mode of the LCO network to followup high-magnification microlens- ing events being observed by the Spitzer microlens parallax program. These events have the highest intrinsic sensitivity to planets, but must be followed intensively over the peak of the event in order to capture that sensitivity. We will use LCO observations to find and characterize 4 ± 2 planetary perturbations in these events to measure the mass ratio and scaled projected separation of the planet and also measure finite source effects. By combining these data with the Spitzer parallax data, we will measure the masses of the planets and the distance between the Sun and the planetary system. Through a complete statistical analysis of the Spitzer microlensing parallax sample includ- ing these events observed by LCO, we will make the first measurement of the galactic distribution of planets.

Huitson, C. U. Colorado Monitoring Stellar Activity for Exoplanet Hosts: Essential Support for a Gemini Survey Program   25  

We propose nightly photometric monitoring of 2 exoplanet host stars with the LCO 1-m network (a continuation of program LCO2016B-009). The proposed program is essential to the success of an accepted Gemini survey, which is the first aimed at the characterization of exoplanet clouds. Since understanding clouds is necessary for measuring exoplanet compositions, this an important step forward in the field of exoplanet science. The Gemini survey will measure scattering signatures in blue optical transmission spectra during multiple observations to determine cloud species. However, while the blue optical is the only spectral region where clouds can be directly detected, it is also the spectral region where stellar activity produces strong signals in transmission. The proposed LCO program is required in order to dis-entangle contaminating stellar signals from true planetary signals. The stellar contribution varies significantly depending on the number of starspots visible, and only independent measurements of the stellar spot level will enable distinction between the two signals. Long-term, frequent, photometric monitoring throughout the Gemini survey is the only way to measure the stellar spot level at the time of each transit event, by allowing us to model the stellar periodicity, spot evolution and estimate the non-spotted stellar brightness. This is the only way to correct the transmission spectra for stellar effects and accurately characterize the planetary cloud species.

Foley, R. UC, Santa Cruz The Next Generation Low-z Type Ia Supernova Sample for Cosmology 14.5    
Type Ia supernovae (SNe Ia) are one of the best probes to constrain the nature of dark energy. Recent surveys have observed such a large number of high-z SNe Ia that cosmological constraints are now limited by systematics and the relatively small number of low-z SNe. We are conducting a survey to construct an unbiased, high-fidelity low-z SN Ia sample in the Pan-STARRS1 natural system to improve SN cosmology constraints. This sample will (1) quadruple the number of cos- mologically useful low-z SNe Ia, (2) be unique in its photometric calibration precision, and (3) be the only low-z SN Ia sample observed with the same system as a high-z sample. This program will also fulfill the WFIRST low-z SN Ia requirement. Our homogeneous low-z sample will minimize the largest systematic error sources and with it, we will acquire a state-of-the-art constraint on the equation-of-state parameter of dark energy, w, to <5%. Here, we propose to obtain the necessary spectroscopy for this sample.
Schlaufman, K. Johns Hopkins A Compact Object Companion to an Ultra Metal-poor Star in the Solar Neighborhood   55.3  

We propose to use the Doppler technique on time-resolved LCO/NRES spectroscopy to infer the minimum mass of a likely compact object companion to a recently discovered ultra metal-poor star. Data already acquired suggests that the object may be a neutron star or stellar-mass black hole, but the sparse radial velocity sampling currently available does not exclude the possibility that the companion is a massive white dwarf. If the compact object is confirmed to be a neutron star or black hole, it would be among the closest known massive compact objects to the Sun. The visible ultra metal-poor star is nearby and bright enough that Gaia will eventually measure the inclination of the system’s orbit. It will therefore be possible to measure the mass of the compact object. The low metallicity of the visible star suggests that it and the compact object likely formed in the distant past, making the unseen companion the oldest compact object in the solar neighborhood.

Metcalfe, T. Space Science Inst. Activity Cycles in Asteroseismic Solar Analogs   40  

The magnetic activity of the Sun becomes stronger and weaker over roughly an 11-year cycle. Decades of observations from Mount Wilson and Lowell revealed that other stars also show regular activity cycles, and identified two possible relationships between the length of the cycle and the rotation rate of the star. Neither of these relationships match the properties of the Sun, a peculiarity that demands further investigation. Recent work suggests that the Sun’s rotation rate and magnetic field may be in a transitional phase that occurs in all middle-aged stars, but additional observations are needed to test this hypothesis. We propose to begin long-term monitoring of Ca ii H and K emission for a sample of bright stars with known rotation rates, to identify the short activity cycles that are predecessors of the 11-year solar cycle. For most of these targets, asteroseismic masses and ages are soon expected from the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS). We initially focus on 24 stars that are accessible from the south, but we will seek long-term status in 2018A for the full sample.

Cucchiara, A. U. Virgin Islands Searching for the first stars around the clock 3 12  

Gamma-ray bursts are produced by the explosion of 20-100 solar mass stars. They have been detected up to redshift z ∼ 8 − 9 and their optical/NIR emission is bright enough to provide high signal to noise ratio spectra. Unfortunately, the rarity of such high-z events requires every possible effort to promptly observe as many GRB as possible. In this proposal we request to utilize the LCO network of 1m and 2m telescopes in order to expand our sky coverage and identify possible high-z candidates to be subsequently observed with our 4-8m NIR dedicated facilities. We expect to increase by 25% our sample of z ∼ 6 GRBs and to provide for the first time a high-resolution spectrum of a z >∼ 7 GRB: this data will shed light on the chemical enrichment of the Universe at such early stage as well as provide constrain on reionization. Furthermore, identifying such objects will provide invaluable resources for future NIR observation with the James Webb Space Telescope and Thirty meter facilities.

Koerner, D. NAU Rotation Periods of Quiescent Sun-like Stars   31  

We request time to use NRES in shared-risk mode at the 1-m LCO telescope in CTIO. Our pro- gram aims to monitor temporal changes in spectral lines that are chromospherically or sunspot sensitive. Our goal is to characterize the degree to which this technique can provide a measure of stellar rotation periods for older less-active Sun-like stars where photometric means fail. The result promises to open a new field of ground-based observations of older Sun-like stars whose ages provide an important window on the time evolution of planetary systems.

Bailyn, C. Yale Black Hole Binary Systems in Quiescence   23.7  

We propose to observe the optical counterparts of two black hole binary systems. The scientific goals are 1) to refine the system inclination and mass of the black hole; 2) to understand the accretion flow in the quiescent state; 3) to establish templates for the identification of black hole systems in quiescence in future time domain surveys. Point 3 is of particular importance in the LIGO era. The demographics of black hole binaries are currently subject to an intense selection effect because they are identified initially through their X-ray outbursts. Identification by optical properties would be a significant improvement in this regard.

Walter, F. Stony Brook U. Synopic Spectroscopy of Bright Novae: A Feasibility Study   29  

The ability to monitor galactic novae at high cadence is revealing new puzzles about just how white dwarf stars explode and lose mass. High cadence absorption line spectroscopy shows that the mass loss in many novae is highly complex. We can resolve the origin of absorption systems; correlations with OIR photometry are revealing insights into the process. We request a total of 2 nights with LCO/NRES to a.) obtain a cross-calibration with our high dispersion Chiron spectra, and b.) obtain a high-cadence sequence of synoptic spectra of the next bright galactic nova.

Kilpatrick, C. UC, Santa Cruz Constraining Supernova Progenitor Systems with the LCO Global Telescope Network 2.7 4.5  

Many open questions in supernova (SN) physics rely on the connection between core-collapse SNe and their massive progenitor stars. It is now possible to directly investigate SN progenitor systems, but only for the small fraction of nearby SNe with pre-explosion Hubble Space Telescope (HST) imaging. Therefore, each new discovery must be optimally exploited in order to obtain as much information as possible connecting SN and progenitor star. We propose to use the unique rapid response and monitoring capabilities of the LCO Global Telescope Network to investigate the early-time light curves and spectroscopic evolution of core-collapse SNe that have pre-explosion HST imaging. The early-time light curve is sensitive of the radius of the progenitor star, and we will use this information to produce an independent constraint on progenitor star systems.

Liu, T. U. Maryland Monitoring Variability-Selected Supermassive Black Hole Binary Candidates from Pan-STARRS1 38    

Periodic variability in quasars has been predicted as an observational signature of supermassive black hole binaries (SMBHBs), which should be a common product of the hierarchy growth of galaxies. We have performed a systematic search in the Pan-STARRS1 Medium Deep Survey and identified a number of periodic quasar candidates with variations over > 1.5 cycles. We have been monitoring them with the Large Monolithic Imager at the Discovery Channel Telescope, since a long baseline is essential in order to break a false positive signal due to normal, stochastic quasar variability. Here we propose to continue and expand our imaging campaign with LCO. The proposed observations will be able to verify strong SMBHB candidates that are in the gravitational wave regime of orbital decay accessible to the Pulsar Timing Arrays and for the upcoming era of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope.

Gomez, S. Harvard U. Spectroscopy of a likely new black hole X-ray binary and Cygnus X-1 progenitor   10  

HD96670 is a single-line spectroscopic binary made up of an O8.5V primary with variable HeII emission, and an unseen secondary (Sota, et al. 2014). We observed the source and determined a mass function of f (M ) = 0.1161 ± 0.0046 M Sun. For an O8.5 primary, this implies a minimum secondary mass of M2 > 3.5±0.5MS un, ruling out a neutron star or white dwarf secondary. We dont see any spectral signatures that can be associated with a main sequence companion > 3.5M Sun. The source also shows X-ray emission above 10keV with a photon index ∼ 2.5 (Grindlay, et al. in prep). These arguments favor a black hole secondary, if confirmed this would be the third to fifth dynamically confirmed black hole high mass X-ray binary known in the galaxy (Besides Cyg X-1 and MWC 656).

Linder, T. U. North Dakota Physical Properties of Near Earth Asteroids 20 200  

For over 15 years there has been clear evidence for an asteroid spin barrier, where asteroids larger than 150 m in diameter (H=22) do not rotate faster than 11 rev/day (P=2.2 hours). However, the asteroid population near the spin barrier has not been well studied because these objects are fainter than what the amateur community can typically observe. Additionally, until recently, there has not been enough meter-class telescope time available to conduct a large scale population study. This proposed work will almost double the number of quality rotational studies of asteroids between H=20 (300 m) and H=23 (100 m). The LCO network provides a unique opportunity to provide physical characterization of medium sized near Earth asteroids soon after discovery. While the discovery rate of these asteroids will greatly increase with LSST, the window available for their characterization will remain unchanged. Therefore, an infrastructure like the one proposed here is required to be able to process LSST alerts in real time and submit time domain observations.

Szkody, P. U. Washington Targeting Candidate Cataclysmic Variables in Current Transient Surveys 16 48  

Our program aims to accomplish followup photometry and spectroscopy of newly discovered candi- date cataclysmic variables (CVs) in current optical sky surveys (CRTS, MASTER, ASAS-SN), with particular emphasis on low luminosity, short period dwarf novae that have infrequent outbursts, related period bouncers and systems containing highly magnetic white dwarfs. These objects are crucial for understanding the nature of close binary evolution, particularly at the shortest orbital periods (60-90 min). In addition, the rare but important class of double-degenerate systems, po- tential progenitors of Type Ia SN are also potential candidates from these surveys. The primary goals are to obtain spectra to confirm the CV nature and delineate the object types, and obtain light curves to find the orbital periods, an essential key parameter to determine the evolutionary status. We need to accumulate large numbers to test population model predictions for angular momentum loss and evolution. For this reason, we request long term status to accumulate data for about 100 systems, using 3 hr continuous photometry (in g and r) for 2-3 objects/ month and spectra of about 4/month throughout the 3 yr program. We will use larger telescope access by the PI and CoIs at APO, MDM, Caltech and SAAO to accomplish radial velocities of the most interesting targets determined by LCO. This first year will serve as a testbed for the addition of ZTF candidates at the end of 2017.

Bentz, M. Georgia State U. Reverberation Mapping of the Nearby Seyfert NGC3783 29.9 15.8  

NGC3783 is one of the brightest and nearest broad-lined Seyfert galaxies. As such, it is one of only a handful of objects where we can attempt to directly compare black hole mass measurements based on reverberation mapping (which is limited by temporal resolution) and stellar dynamical modeling (which is limited by spatial resolution). To date, such comparisons have only been carried out for two Seyferts. Our team has been working to increase the number of such comparisons, and we have two more nearing completion, with 2-3 additional objects in progress. We have exhausted the sample of northern hemisphere targets, but LCO provides a unique set of capabilities for carrying out spectrophotometric monitoring programs in the southern hemisphere. NGC3783 is our top priority southern target, especially as it is not included in the LCO AGN Key Project. All black hole mass estimates at different look-back times are based on reverberation mapping and/or dynamical modeling results for < 200 nearby objects. Direct comparisons of these techniques are necessary to understand the magnitude of the biases and limitations inherent in each technique and to investigate the possibility of offsets in their resultant mass scales, which may profoundly affect our understanding of black hole growth and evolution.

Hernandez-Santisteban, J. U. Amsterdam Time-resolved photometry of sub-luminous X-ray binaries 16    

Sub-luminous X-ray binaries are transiently accreting neutron stars or black holes that show anoma- lously faint X-ray outbursts. It is expected that these objects represent rare, exciting sub-classes of X-ray binaries: i) black holes or neutron stars accreting from a H-poor companion star in a very tight orbit, which are prime targets for future gravitational wave searches and important tests for binary evolution models, or ii) neutron stars with magnetic fields strong enough to propeller the accreted gas away, a very interesting but poorly understood form of accretion. Only a few objects in each of these two sub-classes are currently known and there is high merit to search for more of them. Here we propose NOAO/LCO optical imaging observations of two sub-luminous X-ray binaries for which we obtained optical spectra; one with a strong Hα emission line and one that lacks any H feature. Our main aim is to search for optical modulations that allow us to measure the orbital periods of these two objects and hence distinguish between the above two scenarios.

Oszkiewicz, D. Adam Mickiewicz U. Testing the dynamical link between HED meteorites and V-type asteroids in the inner main belt   35  

Most howardite-eucrite-diogenite meteorites (HEDs) are generally thought to be collisionaly ejected debris from asteroid (4) Vesta. However, several of the HED group meteorites (for example Bunburra Rockhole, Ibitra, Pasamonte, PCA 91007, NWA 011, A-881394, and others) show oxygen isotope ratios suggesting that they must have originated in multiple other asteroids. Those aster- oids are parts of disrupted planetesimals - first bodies that formed in the Solar System four billion years ago. Identification of those asteroids, confirmation of their link to the anomalous meteorites, determination of their properties and distribution in Solar System is essential to understanding early phases of planetary formation and evolution.

Ryan, E. SETI Rotational Outliers in the Trojans: Are They All One Compositional Type? 9    

Results of a recent survey of Trojan asteroid lightcurves with the Kepler mission have identified a population of asteroids with rotational periods less than 100 hours. Preliminary compositional data is available for approximately half of the sample, and all but one target have the same taxonomic type. In this proposal, we address the question: do all slow rotators within the Trojans have the same compositional type with spectra from the Las Cumbres Observatory Faulkes Telescopes.

Tokovinin, A. NOAO/CTIO Origin of close spectroscopic subsystems in solar-type multiple stars   10  

Using the complete sample of 4846 solar-type stars within 67 pc, we will provide the unbiased statistics of close (P < 1000d) subsystems in hierarchical multiples. Diagnostic features such as period and eccentricity distributions, mass and period ratios will help to establish the relevance of alter- native formation mechanisms of those subsystems and will lead to the understanding (eventually predicting) stellar multiplicity. This work continues the CHIRON survey interrupted in 2016.

Silverstein, M. Georgia State U. Confirmation of Young Stars Near the Sun   68.9  

Using a chi-squared spectral energy distribution fit of VRI, 2MASS JHK, and WISE data to the BT-Settl model grid, we are characterizing a total of 1874 of the nearest red dwarfs by pro- viding systematically determined luminosities, Teff, and radii. One result of this program is the identification of young/old stars via their correspondingly large/small radii. Radii for these stars can be used as proxies to map stellar ages for stars in the solar neighborhood from which we can piece together our Galaxy’s history. As part of the PI’s PhD thesis, we wish to gather short-term variability data for 15 candidate pre-main sequence stars to serve as indicators of these stars’ youth.

South African Astronomical Observatory

PI Name PI Institution Title 2017AB hours
(2m) (1m) (0.4m)
Colmenero, E. SALT SAAO contribution to AGN Key Project   60  
Our goals are to measure black hole masses and quasar distances out to redshift ~2 by exploiting light travel time delays to resolve micro-arcsecond structure of accretion flows onto supermassive black holes in active galactic nuclei (AGN). LCOGT is the enabling technology for mass production AGN echo mapping, with FLOYDS for spectroscopy and the 1m scopes for imaging, providing long high-cadence lightcurves. Time delays from the lightcurves give us the radii of emission line and continuum regions around the accreting black hole. The emission-line widths and time delays (weeks-months) give us the black hole mass (Mbh). We will measure Mbh at high redshift by monitoring Hbeta+MgII for 10 AGN at z~0.35, MgII+CIV for 10 at z~1.6, and CIV for 2 lensed quasars at z=2-2.3. We then calibrate the Hbeta+MgII+CIV size-luminosity relations to find Mbh for thousands more AGN. To measure quasar distances, we will use the LCOGT 1m scopes for ugriz lightcurves and measure continuum delays (days) increasing from blue to red, thus probing the accretion disk T(R) profiles, measuring accretion rates (M dM/dt), and distances (D). With D for ~70 quasars out to z~2 we can independently probe the cosmic expansion history with different systematics and at higher redshifts than Type Ia supernovae. If NASA approves the Kepler 2 ecliptic plane survey, we will exploit the unique opportunity to target AGN in the K2 fields.
McBride, V. SAAO Constraining the compact object in a new intermediate mass X-ray binary   2  
Constraining the compact object in a new intermediate mass X-ray binary
Sefako, R. SAAO SAAO contribution to Transiting Exoplanet Science Key Project   60  
LCO is becoming a one-stop shop for exoplanet observations. With the deployment of NRES it will be capable of obtaining both RVs to measure the orbit and photometry to measure the transit, all using a robotic telescope network. This is especially useful for observations of transiting planet candidates, confirming their planetary nature and measuring their orbit and mass, along with studying the systems architecture. Such observations are currently a bottleneck due to the lack of sufficient observing resources. We will use LCO to observe transiting planets identified by the Kepler, K2, KELT, HAT- South, and TESS surveys. We have identified 4 observing activities where LCO will make a significant contribution: In Part I we will detect transiting warm Jupiters, to study the inflated gas giant planet conundrum. In Part II we will observe transiting systems showing transit timing variations, to look for small planets in wide orbits, beyond the reach of the RV method. In Part III we will observe planet candidates orbiting bright and quiet stars which once confirmed will become prime targets for detailed characterization. In Part IV we will observe transit candidates to check whether the transit signal seen in the survey data is in fact a false positive originating from a deep eclipse on a nearby star diluted with the target in the wide PSF of the survey instrument. Each part is independent of the rest while combined they will make LCO a leading player in the exoplanets field.
Potter, S. SAAO Time-domain astrophysics of CVs, continued   60  
Magnetic CV (mCV) research has been an unofficial key SAAO/UCT research programme for the past ~ 3 decades. In that time we have built up expertise in high time domain photometry, spectroscopy and polarimetry of mCVs. Presently we have multiple on-going active observing campaigns using the SALT, SAAO small telescopes and other Gamma and X-ray observatories through international collaborations. This proposal has two main objectives. The first is to boost the scientific output of our ongoing campaigns by providing up-to-date light curves and to provide timely notification of infrequent or rare extreme events (targets of opportunity). Secondly, to extend our time-domain exploration of mCVs to the longer time domain in order to address our lack of knowledge and understanding of the long term physical accretion processes of mCVs.
van Soelen, B. U. Free State Optical ToO observations with LCO for H.E.S.S.   33  
The H.E.S.S. gamma-ray telescope regularly partakes in campaigns to obtain multi-wavelength observations of variable very-high-energy (VHE: E > 100 GeV) ?-ray sources. Here we propose for ToO time on the LCOGT system to provide optical support for such coordinated multiwavelength observations. The most probable targets will be extra-galactic sources such as blazars and GRBs. Blazars display rapid variability across all wavelengths and while some studies have found tight correlations between the optical, X-ray and gamma-ray emissions, others have not. Observed correlations (or lack thereof), which often include more complicated patterns than simple linear flux-flux correlations, place constraints on the particle acceleration and radiation mechanisms at work within these systems. A major part of the science being undertaken with the H.E.S.S. II telescope is the attempted VHE gamma-ray detection of a GRB. While GRBs are routinely observed at MeV energies and have been detected up to 95 GeV by Fermi-LAT, so far none has been detected at energies above 100 GeV. The H.E.S.S. II telescope has a fully automated GRB observation system, automatically repositioning the system for prompt follow-up observations of GRBs, within as short as 60 seconds, without the need for intervention by the observation shift crew. The LCOGT provides a unique resource to allow for simultaneous optical and VHE observations.
Whitelock, P. SAAO Light-Curve of Possible Super-AGB Stars in NGC 6822   2  
We propose obtaining one exposure per month in the RCband of the hot bottom burning (HBB) variables in IC 1613 in order to characterize their variability and in particular to find out if the period of the lithium-rich star is changing. Such a change could indicate that it is undergoing real-time evolution.
Kniazev, A. SAAO Study photometric structure of southern lenticular galaxies in clusters   30  
The goal of the project is to study photometric structure of southern lenticular galaxies in clusters. The project supplements the spectral program is now active at SALT. To attribute the stellar population ages and metallicities measured along the slit of spectrograph to certain large-scale components of the galaxies studied, we need the images in gri bands. After data obtaining, we will decompose observed galaxies into bulges and disks to determine strict radial borders and relative brightness contributions of the components at different radii.
Menzies, J. SAAO Evolutionary Period Changes in Hot Bottom Burning Stars?   4  
Evolutionary Period Changes in Hot Bottom Burning Stars?
Genade, A. SAAO Observations of stellar occultations by trans-Neptunian Objects   53  
Observations of stellar occultations by trans-Neptunian Objects
Leeuw, L.   Confirming and Monitoring Herschel Selected Blazar Candidates   18  
Confirming and Monitoring Herschel Selected Blazar Candidates
Haiman, Z. Columbia Monitoring Periodic Quasars for Black Hole Binaries   64  
Monitoring Periodic Quasars for Black Hole Binaries
Sefako, R. SAAO Multisite observations of a high-amplitude rapidly oscillating Ap star   40  
Multisite observations of a high-amplitude rapidly oscillating Ap star

Scottish Universities Physics Alliance

PI Name PI Institution Title 2017AB hours
(2m) (1m) (0.4m)
Tsapras, Y. U. Heidelberg ROME/REA - A three-color window to planets beyond the snow-line.   900  
SUPA contribution to ROME/REA Key Project
Horne, K. St. Andrews U. Echo Mapping of AGN Accretion Flows   1000  
SUPA contribution to AGN Echo Mapping Key Project
Shporer, A. Caltech Transiting Exoplanet Science with LCO Key Project   100  
SUPA contribution to Transiting Exoplanet Science key project.
Brown, T. LCO Using NRES to Validate and Characterize Exoplanets Found by TESS   50  
SUPA contribution to NRES key project.
Cameron, A. St. Andrews U. Transiting Exoplanets   100  
Follow-up of transiting extrasolar planet candidates identified in ground-based surveys (e.g. WASP, QES).
Scholz, A. St. Andrews U. Time-Domain Observations of Young Stellar Objects (TOYS)   100  
Young stellar objects show variability on a range of timescales, caused by a variety of physical mechanisms. Some of them are periodic and associated with stellar and disk rotation, others are irregular and based on instabilities. We want to use LCOGT 1-m time to carry out multi-filter monitoring of ~100 YSOs to a) map their (stable) circumstellar environment (hot spots, inner disk bubbles, disk clumps), b) to measure timescales/frequencies for instabilities, and c) to identify specific objects for follow-up with larger telescopes. We plan to focus on one star forming region per semester - Chamaeleon-I in April/May and SigmaOri in November/December. With the Sinistro detectors, the field of view will cover several dozen known and well-characterised YSOs in each region. The regions can be covered almost 24/7 with the 1-m network during these months.
Dominik, M. St. Andrews U. Science from GAIA Alerts   50  
Follow-up of e.g. GAIA transients.
Buie, M. Southwest Research Institute Seasonal Variations on Pluto   30  
Seasonal Variations on Pluto

Chilean Astronomical Community

PI Name PI Institution Title 2017AB hours
(2m) (1m) (0.4m)
Tejos, N. PUC Rapid Imaging Follow-up of Fast Radio Bursts   64  
We propose to initiate a target of opportunity (ToO) program to study the nature and origin of fast radio bursts (FRBs). Analogous to the gamma-ray bursts, the FRBs are an enigmatic class of transient sources discovered outside the optical/near-IR passbands. Their radio emission, however, offers limited insight into their physical nature and, especially, cannot be used to establish the source redshift. Here, we propose to use LCOGTN to perform rapid imaging follow-up observations of real time FRB alerts, in order to localize a putative optical counterpart. As part of our larger project, we will then perform rapid response spectroscopic follow-up observations from large-class telescopes (including VLT, Gemini, Keck), with the final objective of obtaining a solid redshift estimation to FRBs. Our science goals range from establishing the energetics and progenitors of the FRBs to leveraging these phenomena for cosmological constraints on the mean density of the intergalactic ...
Rodriguez, O. UNAB Testing Type II supernovae as cosmological probes at near-infrared wavelengths   80  
Pioneering studies are showing that at near-IR (NIR) SNe II have the potential to become standardizable candles as good as SNe Ia. At NIR, light is less affected by dust and SN II spectra display very few metal lines, which can prevent possible systematics induced by the metallicity evolution through the cosmic history. Additionally, systematics affecting SNe II are very different from those affecting SNe Ia. Therefore SNe II have the potential to become a tool complementary to SNe Ia for cosmological studies. We propose to use REM, LCOGT, SMARTS 1.3m, SOAR, and du Pont telescopes to obtain optical+NIR photometry and optical spectroscopy of a sample of SNe II during the plateau phase. The requested observations will be used to calibrate the SNe II absolute brightness at NIR and to measure the Hubble constant, and will contribute to assemble a statistically significant data set which will allow us to test once and for all the internal precision of SN II as distance indicator at NIR.
Pignata, G. UNAB The New Life of the CHilean Automatic Supernova sEarch (CHASE)   10  
Thanks to the enhanced survey capabilities of the PROMPT telescopes and their more customized scheduling structure, the Chilean Automatic Supernova Search is starting a second life. We are now able to observe a sample of nearby galaxies multiple times during each night. The proposed observations will allow us to put strong constraints on the radius of the supernova progenitor. The multiple detections during the night will also give us the possibility to trigger spectroscopic follow-up observations few hours after the discovery where trace of the original progenitor composition are still present. Thanks to their proximity these discoveries can be intensively monitored in a large wavelength rage and for long time making them perfect laboratories to study the SN physics and the progenitor system.
Lira, P. UCH Optical and IR monitoring of Narrow Line Seyfert 1s   30  
Correlation analysis results of AGN is at odds with the standard accretion disk theory, with disk sizes appearing consistently larger than expected. We still do not know whether this behaviour is true for all possible values of BH masses and accretion rates. We want to test this by studying 2 Narrow Line Seyfert 1s (NLS1). Besides, the correlation between X-rays and the far-UV in some NLS1s is either very weak or non-existent. Is the UV/optical variability in these AGN therefore not significantly affected by reprocessing of higher energy photons? If so, we don’t expect to see longer wavelength optical/IR bands lagging behind the shorter wavelengths. If, in these very high accretion rate AGN with very hot discs, internal thermal fluctuations dominate the variability, we may see the longer wavelengths leading the shorter, due to inwardly propagating accretion rate fluctuations. Here, by measuring the lags between a broad range of optical and near IR bands, we wish to test that hypothesis.
Barba, R. ULS The photometric monitoring of a close encounter of hefty stars: the periastron passage of HD 93129 A   57  
... sun, and a possible tight third component around Aa. VLTI/PIONIER observations predict an extremely close encounter at periastron (0.5 to a few A.U.; i.e. similar to η Car’s case). We have started a large combined observational program to monitor the event. Planned observations include HST, XMM, NuStar, VLTI/PIONIER, VLT/UVES, VLBI. This proposal for optical monitoring is the essential piece to get a complete sample of the spectral energy distribution during the extreme close encounter. The results of the event are difficult to predict, but our calculations point that it could be a relatively smooth ride to a catastrophic event. The daily monitoring allow us to properly plan and take full advantage of the periastron passage of one of the most extreme massive binaries known.
Prieto, J. UDP Characterizing ASAS-SN Transients: Physical Properties, Progenitors, Distances, and Rates   100  
We propose to use a suite of small telescopes (REM, LCOGTN and SMARTS) to continue a successful program to obtain multicolor light curves of a complete sample of nearby and bright extragalactic transients (discovery V < 17 mag), mainly supernovae (SNe), from the All-Sky Automated Survey for SuperNovae (ASAS-SN). ASAS- SN is currently the only all-sky transient survey and discovers the majority of the bright optical transients in an unbiased way. The light curves obtained with this program will be used to characterize the physical properties of the explosions (e.g., radiated energies, Ni 56 masses) to constrain their progenitor stars and explosions, for obtaining accurate distances to nearby galaxies, and for characterizing different kinds of transients for the estimation of rates. Data from this project has contributed to characterizing the most luminous SN known, to constraining the progenitor of a nearby Type Ia SN, and to the study of the nearest tidal disruption events.
Barba, R. ULS Determining precise absolute parameters for massive eclipsing binaries: photometric monitoring   22 27
We propose to obtain high-quality optical light-curves for a set of massive eclipsing binaries discovered through the ”Galactic O Star Spectroscopic Survey” and ”All Sky Automated Survey” and an additional set of early B- type eclipsing binaries without reliable light- curves. We are obtaining radial velocities of those binaries under ”OWN Survey” high-resolution spectroscopic monitoring of O-type stars and a new dedicated spectroscopic program started at CASLEO (Argentina). Radial velocities together with high signal-to-noise light- curves are being used to derive high-precision absolute physical parameters such as luminosities, masses and radius, among others. Eclipsing binaries are essential objects to constrain and calibrate stellar models and evolutionary scenarios. We have selected twelve targets including also additional eclipsing binaries in the FOV. We are requesting 27.5h and 21.5h of observing time using the 0.4- and 1-m LCOGT telescope network, respectively.
Leiva, R. PUC Characterization of the Centaur (10199) Chariklo and its ring system 10    
Stellar occultations occur when a Solar System object moves in front a distant star blocking its light temporarily. Analyzing simultaneous observations at several locations it is possible to derive shapes and sized down to km accuracy and to detect faint and narrow rings and potential satellites. We propose to observe stellar occultations by transneptunian objects and Centaurs asteroids using SARA-South telescope and LCOGT-Network. Complementing these observation we will recover the rotation phase and amplitude using LCOGT Network facilities. Knowledge of the rotation phase and amplitude close in time to successful occultation observations will help to constrain tri-axial elongated models. Goals are: monitor Chariklo’s rings (that we discovered in June 2013), constrain Chariklo’s size and shape which ultimately can help to explain and model the ring system dynamics. The observations proposed use stellar occultation predictions based on GAIA DR1 star positions.

National Astronomical Observatories of China

PI Name PI Institution Title 2017AB hours
(2m) (1m) (0.4m)
Zang, W.   ROME/REA - A three-color window to planets beyond the snow-line   48  
NAOC contribution to ROME/REA key project.
Wang, X. Tsinghua U. The Global Supernova Project   123  
NAOC contribution to Global Supernova key project.
Dong, S. Peking U. Multi-band Photometric Monitoring of Extragalactic Transients Discovered by ASAS-SN   95  
We are in a golden era of time-domain astronomy, with several optical transient surveys finding hundreds of sources per year. However, most of these transients are poorly studied due to their relative faintness and lack of follow-up resources. Here we propose to use the LCOGT 1m telescopes to obtain multi-band and well-sampled light curves of a complete sample of nearby extragalactic transients (discovery magnitude V <~ 17 mag, D <~ 200 Mpc), mainly supernovae, that will be selected from the ASAS-SN surveys. The well-sampled light curves obtained with this program will be used to characterize the physical properties of the explosions (e.g., source of the emission, radiated energies, ejecta and 56Ni masses, dust formation) and for constraining their progenitor stars and explosion mechanisms. For Type Ia and Type IIP supernovae, these data will also be used to obtain accurate distances. To augment our high-cadence photometry, we will obtain spectral time-series of the targets via coordination with a several mid-sized telescopes available to us.

Tel Aviv University: Israeli Center Of Research Excellence

PI Name PI Institution Title 2017AB hours
(2m) (1m) (0.4m)
Hallakoun, N. Tel Aviv U. Companions and debris around white dwarfs 70 296  
Companions and debris around white dwarfs
Mazeh, T. Tel Aviv. U. Search for black holes around massive stars 100    
Search for black holes around massive stars
Shvartzvald, Y. Tel Aviv U. Spitzer Microlens Parallax program   100  
Spitzer Microlens Parallax program
Howell, A. LCO The Global Supernova Key Project   50  
TAU/ICORE contribution to the Global Supernova key project.
Mackebrandt, F. MPI Planets around V391 Peg 70    
Planets around V391 Peg
Ofir, A. Weizmann Inst. Photometric Monitoring of GJ729     14
Photometric Monitoring of GJ729

Australian National University

PI name Title 2017AB hours
(2m) (1m) (0.4m)
Yong, D. Binarity in Carbon-enhanced metal-poor stars   40  

Binarity in Carbon-enhanced metal-poor stars

Onken, C. Echo Mapping of AGN Accretion Flows 79 50  

ANU contribution to AGN key project.

Bento, J. Characterizing Transiting Exoplanets   130 266

ANU contribution to Transiting Exoplanets key project.

Tucker, B.. The Global Supernova Project 54 20  

ANU contribution to Global Supernova key project.

Bian, F. Hunting supermassive black-holes in low-mass dwarfs   26  
Hunting supermassive black-holes in low-mass dwarfs

Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias

PI name Title 2017AB hours
(2m) (1m) (0.4m)
Bejar, V. Photometric monitoring of the M dwarfs in the Carmenes sample     300
CARMENES is the new optical and near-infrared high-resolution spectrograph that recently started operations in the 3.5m telescope at the Calar Alto observatory. The main objective of CARMENES is to carry out a radial-velocity search for low-mass planets around ~300 M dwarfs. As part of our efforts to characterize the sample and avoid spurious radial-velocity signals of activity that can mimic the presence of planets, we plan to acquire contemporaneous photometry of some of these targets to characterize variability and search for rotational periods. Here we propose to carry out a continuous photometric monitoring in the I band of some of the brightest stars of the CARMENES sample that will be followed by the instrument in the next semester over 10-100 days using the SBIG camera at the 40 cm telescopes of LCOGT.
Murgas, F. Transiting Exoplanet Science with LCO     100
IAC contribution to Transiting Exoplanet Science key project.
Palle, E. Photometric Followup of Red Dots targets     80
We propose to use the 1-m and 0.4-m telescopes of the LCO network to obtain precise photometric measurements (UBV, once every 12 hours), contemporaneous to very high precision Doppler measurements obtained with the HARPS spectrograph over 100 nights in a row. This already approved radial velocity survey is dedicated to search for extra-solar planets orbiting around three stars within 5 pc of the Earth. This project is a continuation of the Pale Red Dot campaign responsible of finding the closest exoplanet candidate to Earth to date, Proxima b. Photometric multi-band monitoring is needed to filter out stellar variability mimicking the signal of an exoplanet on the same time-scales. As in the case in the discovery of the exoplanet candidate around Proxima Centauri, regular sampling over 100 nights with HARPS and LCO will help remove all such ambiguities.
Shahbaz, T. The strength of the magnetic field in a redback millisecond pulsar     4
Accretion is an important and ubiquitous process in astrophysics, but the nature of accretion is often puzzling. Low-mass X-ray binaries (LMXBs) are transient objects in which material from a low-mass stellar companion accretes onto a compact object, either a black hole or a neutron star. At high accretion rates (LX >1035 erg/s), a small subset of neutron-star LMXBs, called accreting millisecond X-ray pulsars (AMXPs), show coherent X-ray pulsations. These pulsations provide a powerful probe of the accretion process and allow measurements of the neutron-star spin period, rotational torques, and system geometry [8]. Along with the detection of thermonuclear bursts in LMXBs [17] the presence of X-ray pulsations from AMXPs has shown that matter can be channelled down to the neutron star surface during periods of vigorous accretion
Gomez, M. Spectral Energy distribution of planetary nebulae detected by GALEX     30
Planetary Nebulae (PNe) mainly consist of an ionized envelope surrounding a stellar nucleus. The shaping of a PN takes place at some point between the asymptotic giant branch (AGB) and the white dwarf (WD) stellar phases. The characteristic ionized envelope of a PN results from the strong mass-loss experienced during the AGB and post-AGB phases through the stellar wind ejected by their progenitor stars. In fact, an AGB star can lose up to 80% of its mass during its last thermal pulses (Villaver, Garcıa-Segura, & Manchado, 2002). Althougth some models explain the simplest morphologies (ISW Kwok, Purton, & Fitzgerald, 1978; Balick, 1987), the most complex ones remains under debate. The study of PNe morphologies provides valuable information about the late stages of stellar evolution for intermediate-mass stars. One of the models proposed to explain the most complex morphologies observed in evolved PNe is related to binaries, common envelope phase, substellar interaction, and non-radial pulstations (e. g. Soker, 1997; Bond & Livio, 1990; Soker & Harpaz, 1992; Ricker & Taam, 2012; De Marco et al., 2013). Thus, binaries may play an important role in the stellar evolution. However, up to only 40 binary central stars of PNe (CSPN) are known (De Marco et al., 2013). Stellar evolution from the AGB to PNe phase is very poorly undestood.
Crouzet, N. Characterizing a low-mass star in a 76-day period eclipsing binary     30
M-dwarfs account for 75% of stars in the Milky Way and are crucial to understand its evolution. Yet, their properties are much less understood that those of more massive stars: their observed radii and temperatures are 3-5% larger and 2-3% cooler on average than predicted by models (Torres & Ribas 2002; Mann et al. 2015). While many possible explanations for these discrepancies have been investigated, no consensus has been found. A link between the inflated radius and stellar activity has been extensively discussed in the literature: the magnetic activity of low-mass stars may inhibit convection and enhance surface spot coverage, decreasing the temperature of the photosphere and increasing the radius in response (L opez-Morales 2007). However, many non-active low-mass stars harbour similar discrepancies while some active stars are in line with models. In addition, theoretical studies cannot fully explain this correlation, for example the required interior magnetic fields to inhibit convection in fully convective stars would be much stronger than expected, and the spots should be distributed over the stellar poles and have a surface coverage of 35 to 55% (Feiden & Chaboyer 2014).

Astrophysics Research Institute - Liverpool John Moores University

PI name Title 2017AB hours
(2m) (1m) (0.4m)
Bersier, D. ASAS-SN Follow-up 19 6  
We propose to obtain photometry and spectroscopy of bright transients detected by the All-Sky Automated Survey for Supernovae (ASAS-SN) that is exploring the bright sky, in the range 12 < V < 17. While the main aim of the project is to find and follow nearby SNe, it is finding numerous other transients. We focus here on supernovae (SNe) and tidal disruption events (TDEs) that will be discovered by ASAS-SN. The high survey cadence means that any transient is found soon after eruption. We will obtain photometry and spectroscopy of SNe and follow their evolution to constrain their progenitors and nucleosynthesis. We have demonstrated very fast turn-around time (few hours) between initial observations and classification and we have a good chance of catching a SN shock breakout. This provides excellent constraints on the radius of the progenitor, hence on its evolutionary status. For TDEs, observations will constrain the mass of the supermassive black hole, the physics of the emission and the total accreted mass. We would use LCOGT facilities for photometry (mostly on 1m telescopes) and spectroscopy (2m telescopes). We have already published papers (most of them include LCOGT data) on different classes of objects, including young stellar objects, AGN, several SNe and three tidal disruption events. We have papers nearing completion for several other SNe and another YSO. We can guarantee that there will be exciting and bright events to follow in any semester. Technical requirements: we expect to use 40% of the time in ToO mode for rapid classification of transients. The rest of the time will be used on 1m telescopes for followup, and some time will be on 2m for classification and late-time followup (when transients have faded beyond the capability of 1m)."
Prentice, S. Stripped Envelope SN Follow-up 25    
We would like to use the LCOGT network to aid in the work we are currently doing on Type Ib/c Supernovae. We lead the follow-up campaign on the ESO public survey Pessto, and collaborate with iPTF and the Carnegie SN Project. We normally provide 8m telescope time for late phase follow-up, so we would focus on targets that are bright enough to be monitored for 6-12 months. Our proposal would include classical SNe Ib/c, IIb, as well as rarer H-poor transients such as faint & fast events and H-poor SuperLuminous SNe (including Pair Instability candidates). LCOGT instruments give us good coverage in the South, which would be complementary with Pessto (which runs on the ESO-NTT and does not get photometry) and the CSP and add to the LT work in the North, where iPTF is also located. Based on previous experience we may be following ~10 SNe per year, and would request some 25 hours per semester, mostly for photometry but including some spectroscopy as well.
Darnley, M. Monitoring of M31N 2008-12a 8 7  
These observations will continue to monior the queiscent state ofthe 6/12 month cycle recurrent nova M31N 2008-12a. 1m-network bservations of M31N 2008-12a will be used to detect the eruption - triggering follow-up observations from facilities such as HST and XMM, with the 2m-netowrk tasked to follow the eruption itself.
Darnley, M. Follow-up observations of Local Group Novae 15    
We propose to monitor and follow-up erutpions of Local Group recurrent novae (RNe). Recent studies have gorwn the importance of RNe as Type Ia SN progenitors, by a combination of increased population size and WD mass growth models. Key to studying RNe are the recently uncovered ultra-short recurrence period systems, one in the LMC and two in M31.
Kobayashi, S. Follow-up observations of GRBs 13 7  
We would like to use the LCOGT network to continue the work we have been doing on Gamma-ray bursts, extending it to GRB/SNe. Following triggers from Swift (and sometimes Integral) we can use the LCOGT network (mostly the 2 m telescopes) to monitor GRB light curves. These data are used to build statistical samples, diagnose shock physics and central engine properties possibly determine magnetisation properties for bursts in which reverse and forward shocks can be identified and to determine the GRB light contribution at later time when searching for the contribution from the supernova component in lower redshift objects. If a SN is identified (this requires low-redshift GRBs) we will also follow that both photometrically and spectroscopically, combining LCOGT time with LT/TNG time, in order to determine its properties. The chance to study serendipitous/unique events is also important. We distribute the telescope time across northern and southern telescopes, using both 1 and 2m facilities. Gamma-ray bursts are transient events. We are especially interested in the early afterglow phase (a few mins to a few hrs after GRB triggers) to study shock physics and central engine properties. In order to observe such rapidly fading objects, ToO observations are essential.

University of Texas

PI name Title 2017AB hours
(2m) (1m) (0.4m)
Robinson, E. The Light Curves of Wolf-Rayet Stars   32  
The classical Wolf-Rayet (WR) stars are hot, extremely luminous, massive, evolved stars that are losing mass via powerful winds. Their distinctive spectra are dominated by strong, broad emission lines arising in the wind. Hydrogen lines are notably absent, the stars' hydrogen envelopes having been stripped away by the winds. It is likely that nearly all massive stars pass through a Wolf-Rayet-like evolutionary stage. Theoretical models for the interior structure of WR stars are di cult to calculate and poorly constrained by observations. We propose to survey a small subset of Wolf-Rayet stars for photometric variability at optical wavelengths with the LCO network of telescopes. Little is known about the rapid variability of WR stars, so any detection of short-term variability would be important. However, our speci c goal is to search for periodic variability attributable to pulsations. Current theoretical models for WR stars suggest that pulsations, if present, should have periods of several hundred seconds (p-mode pulsations) or 1 - 10 days (g-mode pulsations). We propose to measure the light curves of the stars in two modes: In Mode 1 we will obtain standard high-speed photometry of each star in a single, continuous 4-hour observation. In Mode 2 we will obtain measurements of their brightness every 1/2 day or so for about 40 days. With overhead, each star will require a total of about 8 hours of observing time. We observed the first 4 WR stars with LCO last semester and verify that the data quality are adequate for the project. We request time to observe another 4 stars in the coming (8-month) semester.
Rizzuto, A. K2C13 Taurus Followup   30  
: The Taurus-Auriga star forming region is one of the nearest samples of very young stars (1-3 Myr) available for the study of star and planet evolution at the earliest stages of the pre-main sequence. The repurposed Kepler mission (K2) will observe 500 Taurus members, with the data becoming available in July 2017. We provided these targets to Kepler, and have begun spectroscopic observations with McDonald observatory resources. We have also developed a transit search and lightcurve detrending pipeline that is optimized for dealing with highly variable young stars, and expect to have completed our planet search just weeks after the data is public. We request LCO ground base observations of any transiting exoplanet candidates in Taurus to rule out activity induced transit-like events using multi-wavelength transit photometry. We will also observe any eclipsing binary systems identi ed in Taurus to obtain precise stellar properties, as they will serve as youngest-age benchmarks for testing the current and future stellar evolution models.
Mann, A. The Evolution of Planetary Atmospheres   35  
Super-Earths and mini-Neptunes are one of the most common types of exoplanets, and yet have no Solar-system analogs. Interesting, such planets appear to have featureless atmospheres, consistent with high clouds or a haze layer. This nding motivates more questions; how and when do these atmospheres form, how do they sustain themselves, and how long do they persist? Some answers could be found by comparing the atmospheres of similar planets with a range of ages from infancy (0-20 Myr) to adolescence (100-1000 Myr) to maturity (>1 Gyr). Mature systems have already been studied extensively, but the former two categories are largely untouched, as the rst young planets amenable to atmospheric characterization were only discovered recently. We have identi ed a number of young transiting super-Earths/mini-Neptunes, and have been awarded Spitzer time to better constrain their atmospheres. However, our observations require ground-based observations to improve the ephemerides, better constrain the wavelength-independent properties, and control for systematics from spots. Here we request LCOGT time observations to continue our observations of the youngest system, K2-33b (10 Myr) and closest system, K2-25b (47pc).
Cochran, W. Transiting Exoplanet Science with LCO   50  
U.Texas contribution to Transiting Exoplanet Science key project.
Wheeler, J. C. Supernova Light Curves with the LCOGT SN Key Project   50  
U. Texas contribution to the Global Supernova key project

University of Hawaii - Institute for Astronomy

PI name Title 2017AB hours
(2m) (1m) (0.4m)
Armstrong, JD HI STAR Projects 60 60 100
The Hawaii Student Teacher Astronomy Research program (HI STAR) is a week long summer program for middle and high school students. At the summer program students work with mentors on starting a research project which the students will continue through the year. The goal ot the HI STAR program is to have students conduct astronomy research projects, enter their projects in the science fair, and eventually major in science, engineering, or technology when they go to college. Typical student research projects include variable stars; asteroid recovery, rotation, and color; exoplanets; galaxies; etc. While this is an EPO program the students are conducting research and some students may submit peer reviewed papers on their research so a proprietary period is desirable.
Armstrong, JD HI STAR Projects II 60 60 100
The Hawaii Student Teacher Astronomy Research program (HI STAR) is a week long summer program for middle and high school students. At the summer program students work with mentors on starting a research project which the students will continue through the year. The goal ot the HI STAR program is to have students conduct astronomy research projects, enter their projects in the science fair, and eventually major in science, engineering, or technology when they go to college. Typical student research projects include variable stars; asteroid recovery, rotation, and color; exoplanets; galaxies; etc. While this is an EPO program the students are conducting research and some students may submit peer reviewed papers on their research so a proprietary period is desirable.
  Transiting Exoplanet Science with LCO   10 70
IfA - Univ. of Hawaii contribution to the Transiting Exoplanet Science key project.
Mathews, G Astro 301 10 10 30
Students at the University of Hawai'i Manoa Astronomy 301 research class will be performing authentic astronomical research. Observations will be collected to support these activities.
Armstrong, JD 0m4 educational data sets     100
0m4 educational data sets

Faulkes Telescope Project

PI name Title 2017AB hours
(2m) (1m) (0.4m)
Roche, P. Education - On Sky 50 30 20
Use of On Sky for FTP education program.
Roche, P. Education - Queue observations 210 130 100
Use of queue observations for FTP education program.
Roche, P. Education - Gaia Alerts 30 20 10
Use of queue observations for responding to Gaia alerts.
Lewis, F. LMXB Monitoring 80    
Monitoring of LMXBs as documented at faulkes-telescope.com/XRB. Continued monitoring of approx 40 transient/quiescent sources.