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.


U. Tel Aviv

LCO Using NRES to Validate and Characterize Exoplanets Found by TESS and Other Surveys 2017AB-2020A 400

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.

St. Andrews U., LCO

Echo Mapping of AGN Accretion Flows 2014A-2017AB 185 821
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 The Global Supernova Project 2017AB-2020A 395 730
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 Transiting Exoplanet Science with LCO - The Network Awakens 2017AB-2019A 60 330 50

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 LCO ROME/REA - A three-color window to planets beyond the snow-line 2017AB-2020A 1350

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.