2018A proposals

Click the title of each proposal to read the abstract

Science Collaboration Key Projects

PI name PI Institution

Contributing Institutions

Title Semesters 2018A hours
FLOYDS (2m) Spectral (2m) NRES (1m) Sinistro (1m) SBIG (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 2150

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-2018A 140 975
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 274 250 1109
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 1400

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 65 301 300 339

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 740

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 2018A hours
FLOYDS (2m) Spectral (2m) NRES (1m) Sinistro (1m) SBIG (0.4m)
Sonnett, S. PSI Probing Solar System Evolution Through Trojan and Hilda Binary Asteroids 13 79 16
One of the most influential and yet poorly constrained events in solar system history is giant planet migration. Two asteroid populations are particularly diagnostic of how our giant planets moved: Jovian Trojan asteroids (hereafter, Trojans) which lie in stable orbits around Jupiter's L4 and L5 Lagrange points, and Hilda asteroids which are in 3:2 resonance with Jupiter. Gentle migration models require Trojans to have formed in situ while rapid migration models instead suggest that they were implanted from the outer solar system. Subsequent dynamical models predict Trojans and Hildas to have a common origin. Therefore, knowing the Trojan and Hilda formation location(s) would offer powerful, discerning constraints on key solar system formation and evolution models. Density is one of the only observable properties that can be used to determine an asteroid's formation location, low densities being consistent with an ice-rich outer solar system origin and high densities tied to warmer, rock-rich inner solar system formation. Characterizing binary asteroid systems is the only means of determining density and thus assessing formation location, apart from a spacecraft fly-by. However, only 5 Trojan and no Hilda binaries have been discovered. We propose to confirm and characterize 11 candidate Trojan and Hilda binaries, model their behavior to solve for density, and perform statistical analyses on the resultant Trojan and Hilda density distributions. This work will help provide context for the upcoming Lucy Space Mission to 6 Trojans, including 1 binary system.
Matheson, T. NOAO Completing a Network of Next Generation SED standards with DA White Dwarfs       25  
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, and we were recently awarded Cycle 25 time with HST for 15 southern standards that will complete our network. To validate the new southern candidates as standard stars, it is critical to demonstrate that they do not vary with time. We propose to continue to use LCO for photometric monitoring of this new set of white dwarfs to assess their variability.
Brown, A. U. Colorado Inner Disk Structure and Transport Mechanisms in the Transitional Disk around TCha       42  
To better understand how Earth-like planets form around low-mass stars, we are studying the UV (HST), X-ray (XMM), and optical (LCOGT) variability of the young star T Cha. This variability is caused by obscuration of the star by clumpy material in the rim of its inner disk. Changing sight-lines through the disk allow measurement of the temperature and column density of both molecular and atomic gas and the physical properties of the dust grains in the well-mixed inner disk. LCOGT will provide the broad variability context needed for interpreting our HST/XMM observations. The approved space-based program consists of three 5 HST orbit visits, separated by ~4 days, simultaneous with 25 ksec XMM observations. Multiple observations are required to use analysis techniques comprising both differential comparison of broad-band spectra with differing A_v and detailed spectral fitting of gas absorption features at each epoch. The inner disk of T Cha is particularly interesting, because T Cha has a transitional disk with a large gap at 0.2-15 AU in the dust disk and allows study of the gas and dust structure during this important rapid phase of protoplanetary disk evolution. Results from these observations will have wide relevance to the modeling and understanding of protoplanetary disk structure and evolution, and the complex gas and dust physics and chemistry in disk surface layers.
Valenti, S. UC, Davis DLT40+: Extending the One Day Cadence Supernova Search to the Northern Hemisphere         500
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, to extend the search in the northern hemisphere using the world-wide LCO 0.4m network as an additional discovery engine, 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 galaxies with D=40 Mpc for years to come. In this proposal, we request 500 hours of 0.4m queue time in order to add 100-200 galaxies in the northern hemisphere to the 400-600 galaxies we already observe with the Prompt telescopes in the southern hemisphere (Dec = 20 degrees)
Arcavi, I. LCO Mapping the Diversity and Emission Mechanisms of Transients in Galaxy Centers 40 42   54  
The search for the tidal disruption of stars (or TDEs) by super-massive black holes is continuing to yield exciting results. Following our identification of a first class of UV-bright TDEs, we are now identifying new classes of transients in galaxy centers (AKA "nuclear transients"). These events may be new types of TDEs or other forms of accretion events. We propose to expand our successful LCO TDE followup program to allow us to study the emission properties of these new types of nuclear transients, in addition to continuing to follow TDEs from the already established classes. LCO is the central component of a multi- wavelength and multi-facility effort to map the phase space of nuclear transients: Swift and JVLA provide UV, X-ray and radio observations; our own aSEATiDE survey and a combination of private and public access to other transient surveys provide suitable targets. We aim to continue to vet TDE candidates and to collect well-sampled photometry and spectroscopy of three new events this semester. The observations obtained as part of this campaign will allow us to continue to study the diversity of black-hole accretion physics and to develop nuclear transients as new tools for characterizing super-massive black holes.
Mathur, S. IAC Activity cycles in Kepler Asteroseismic Targets     51    
The position of the Sun compared to other solar-like stars have been questioned for some time, in particular with the study of the magnetic activity of solar-like stars through spectroscopic observations. Is the Sun a peculiar star? Recently, the investigation of some Kepler solar-like targets showed that stars enter a transition phase in terms of their rotation and magnetism for a given Rossby number. Subsequently, it was suggested that the Sun is in that transition phase where magnetic braking stops, leading to higher surface rotation rates, and where magnetic activity cycles become longer. However, we need more observational data to prove this theory. We propose to begin long-term monitoring of CaII H and K emission for a sample of 15 solar-like stars for which rotation rates have been measured with the Kepler data and for which we have seismic constraints on their ages and structures.
Sonnett, S. PSI Characterizing the Lucy Mission Target 617 Patroclus- Menoetius 21 21
Jovian Trojan asteroids (hereafter, Trojans) lie in stable orbits at Jupiter's L4 and L5 Lagrange points. Their orbits are very sensitive to giant planet migration, making them excellent tracers of migration history. Additionally, binary asteroids are diagnostic of the dynamical environment in which they formed, offering clues to the nature and state of early solar system epochs. Thus, a binary Trojan asteroid is one of the most useful fossils in the solar system. The Lucy mission will launch in 2021 and fly by 5 Trojans, including 1 binary system: 617 Patroclus-Menoetius. Characterizing this system as much as possible in advance of the Lucy encounter will streamline the scientific roadmap and allow fine-scale tailoring of the encounter plan so as to best capture scientifically interesting points in Patroclus' orbit. The Patroclus system will undergo a season of mutual events from 2017-2019 (its last mutual event season before Lucy's launch and the third-to-last before the encounter). All of the mutual events in 2018A are shadow-casting events. Observing these events continuously and in fine detail will allow significant improvement in the system's orbital elements (including determination of whether or not the system has a circular orbit) and constraints on shape and surface scattering properties. We propose to leverage LCO’s queue-scheduled and longitudinally diverse network to observe 16 mutual events throughout 2018A with the goal of improving our knowledge of the orbit and physical properties of this unique object.
Sand, D. Texas Tech Explosion Physics and progenitors from a one cadence supernova search 30     11 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 of explosion, we have begun a pointed one-day cadence SN search focused on nearby (D=40 Mpc) galaxies with a PROMPT 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.
Siverd, R. LCO Hot, Bright Transiting Planets in the Solar Neighborhood 20 80 200
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 designed to survey FGK stars of V~7.5-11 mag and discover new planetary systems with high scientific value. With careful analysis, KELT has begun to confirm planets around significantly hotter stars (a population largely ignored to date). As of this writing, four of the seven known hot Jupiters with A- type host stars have been discovered by the KELT survey. Now at the start of its 14th season on sky, KELT has published numerous discoveries from both its Northern and Southern telescopes that include follow-up data from LCO. As our time baseline has grown, new candidates have emerged with longer periods (10 - 20 days). With capable telescopes at many different longitudes, the LCO network is particularly well suited to our photometric needs. Its importance is even greater for the candidates with longer periods that are now emerging. We propose to continue this successful program (taking particular advantage of the growing 0.4-meter network) to obtain high-precision photometry of promising candidates and discover new, bright exoplanets of high scientific value.
Huitson, C. U. Colorado Monitoring Stellar Activity for Exoplanet Hosts 30
We propose photometric monitoring of four exoplanet host stars with the 1-m network in order to characterize their variability. The proposed program is important for the success of multiple ground- and space-based programs that are designed to study transiting exoplanet atmospheres. In order to accurately measure a planet’s transmission spectrum, stellar signals must be dis-entangled from true planetary atmospheric signals. Since the stellar contribution varies significantly depending on the number of starspots visible, only independent measurements of the stellar spot level will enable distinction between the two signals. For each planet that we have observed in transit, a total of 10, we have also obtained photometric observations of the host star close in time to the planetary observations to initially characterize their variability. It has now been 1 year since the planetary observations took place and we propose further photometric follow-up of the 4 stars we saw to be active in order to characterize their long-term variability. For these stars, long-term photometric monitoring is the only way to measure the stellar spot level during transit observations, by allowing us to accurately characterize the non-spotted stellar brightness. This brightness level can be inaccurate by a factor of 2 for active stars unless observations over multiple years are conducted. The additional observations will allow us to calibrate our previous photometric observations and maximize the scientific return from our exoplanet transmission spectra.
Chatelain, J. LCO Multicolor Light Curve for Unusual Jupiter Trojan (4709) Ennomos 27
The Jupiter Trojan asteroids exist in camps that are co-orbital with Jupiter, preceding and following in the orbit of the gas giant by 60° in either direction. They represent a large population of likely primordial objects that remain understudied due to a combination of their dark surfaces and their relatively large distances from Earth compared to Main Belt objects. Due to their dynamical position and bimodal color distribution, understanding these objects is key to understanding the formation mechanisms of the early Solar System. Of the more than six thousand objects in the Jupiter Trojan swarms, (4709) Ennomos is one of the most unusual. It’s in the trailing L5 Trojan camp, and there is evidence that a large portion of its light curve amplitude is caused by a high albedo spot that takes up as much as 30% of its surface. We wish to either confirm or refute this hypothesis by obtaining a multi-filter light curve for the object over its full rotational period. Such observations will allow us to not only examine the surface features of this particularly interesting object, but also to explore the possibility of more complex and mottled surface characteristics for the Jupiter Trojans at large. This improved understanding of the complexity and variety of surface features on Jupiter Trojans will be critical for placing the targets of the forthcoming Lucy Mission in context within the larger Lagrangian swarms.
Lister, T. LCO LCO NEO Follow-up Network 10 153 160
Near Earth Objects (NEOs) are our closest 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. 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 and 1-m network have tracked and confirmed over a thousand new NEOs, primarily from the Catalina (CSS) and PanSTARRS1 (PS1) surveys. We wish to confirm and characterize new NEOs discovered by the feeder surveys PS1/2 (both now operating), CSS (both telescopes using larger FOV CCDs), 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 240 hours of 1-m time, 140 hours of 0.4-m (to follow brighter, Northern targets) and 10 hours of 2-m FTN time for testing spectroscopic NEO follow-up.
Greenstreet, S. LCO Detection of the Yarkovsky effect for a selection of near-Earth asteroids 80
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 2018A hours
FLOYDS (2m) Spectral (2m) NRES (2m) Sinistro (1m) SBIG (0.4m)
Lebofsky, L. Steward Obs. Recovery of Potentially Hazardous Asteroids   3    

We seek to use the LCO 2-m telescopes to obtain astrometric observations of Virtual Impactors (VIs), which are Near Earth Objects (NEOs) that have the potential to impact Earth in future years. One VI is very large (500–1200m in diameter) and, because of its size and destructive po- tential, warrants recovery and continued observation during the forthcoming apparition to improve knowledge of its orbit. The second VI is large (70–160m in diameter) and likely 100 times the mass of the Chelyabinsk object. With its recovery at ≥1 orbital periods from discovery, a greatly improved assessment of the Earth impact risk will be possible. Outcomes range from removing it from the VI list (the most likely outcome) to its confirmation as a VI with greatly improved orbital elements and Earth impact risk assessments by JPL and NEODyS.

Adams, S. Caltech Light Curves of Candidate Failed Supernova Shock Breakouts   8   8  

Evidence is growing that core collapse in the most massive red supergiants might fail to explode the star and instead result in prompt black hole formation. In such a case, it is predicted that the loss of gravitational binding energy will result in a weak shock that unbinds the hydrogen envelope. With the high-cadence survey of the Zwicky Transient Facility we will have the survey speed to potentially discover the shock breakout associated with such a “failed” supernova. We propose LCO photometric follow-up of candidate events. This program has the potential to yield the first light curve of a failed supernova shock breakout and, when paired with other observations of the fainter, longer-lived recombination-powered transient expected to follow such an event, would provide strong evidence that we have indeed witnessed the birth of a black hole birth from stellar core-collapse.

Kupfer, T. Caltech The Fast and the Furious - A ZTF high cadence survey of the Galactic Plane   16   64  

The Fast and the Furious is a high-cadence survey in the Galactic Plane covering the full inner Plane visible from the northern hemisphere as part of observations of the Zwicky Transient Facility. The goal is to identify an unbiased sample of ultracompact binaries such as interacting AMCVn type binaries and detached white dwarf/He-star binaries with orbital periods below 2 hours. Our survey will provide a comprehensive census of short period variables and allow for a detailed population study of different classes of ultracompact binaries. Here we request a total of 64 hours with the LCO-1m telescopes and 16 hours with the LCO- 2m telescopes to obtain high signal to noise ratio follow-up lightcurves of the 10 most interesting systems (most compact, highest component masses) found in the Fast and the Furious survey. The individual lightcurves will allow us to measure the orbital period precisely and, in combination with spectroscopy, measure precise system parameters such as masses, inclination or radii.

Liu, T. U. Maryland Monitoring Variability-Selected Supermassive Black Hole Binary Candidates from Pan-STARRS1 36        

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.

Kilpatrick, C. UC, Santa Cruz Constraining Supernova Progenitor Systems with the LCO Global Telescope Network 5 2  

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.

Szkody, P. U. Washington Targeting Candidate Cataclysmic Variables in Current Transient Surveys 12

We propose to continue our LCO followup program begun last semester of photometry and spectroscopy of newly discovered candidate 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, potential 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. We request further data for new objects continuously appearing in the surveys, using 3 hr continuous photometry (in g and r) for 2-3 objects/ month and spectra of about 4/month throughout the semester. We 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. The next semester is especially important as ZTF commissioning will start in Nov while the main public survey will begin in Jan 2018, adding large numbers of candidates each month.

Foley, R. UC, Santa Cruz Transients within Hours of Explosion 34
Time-domain surveys are now consistently finding supernovae (SNe) and other transients within hours of explosion. These observations are a unique window into the explosion and progenitor system, probing the circumstellar environment before the SN overruns the material and while the gas is still recombining after being “flash ionized” by the SN shock breakout. Interaction with a potential companion star is also visible in the first hours. In 2018A, we are starting a new survey to detect young transients and K2 will have dedicated supernova (SN) campaigns. These surveys will detect 1-2 transients per month within a few hours of explosion. We have been awarded a rare ”ultra-rapid” HST ToO to obtain UV spectra of 1 young SN. Here we request ToO observations to obtain classification spectra and follow-up spectra and photometry of these young explosions, with which we will probe the physics of the transients and their immediate environment.
Chomiuk, L. MSU A Systematic Search-and-Study of Galactic Novae 5

We request LCOGT data to support our ASAS-SN survey for Galactic novae. ASAS-SN surveys the Galactic plane and bulge every-other-night, and can, in principle, detect novae down to V ∼ 17 mag, provid- ing the first systematic survey for Galactic novae with well-defined selection effects. LCOGT will assist this effort in three ways: first, photometry will allow us to differentiate faint (V > 11 mag) novae from cataclysmic variable outbursts using colors. Second, FLOYDS spectroscopy will provide the prompt spectroscopic confirmation needed to trigger multi-wavelength campaigns to study the nova target. Finally, multi-band LCOGT photometry will allow us to measure high-quality bolometric light curves. These light curves will be compared with γ-ray data to assess the importance and prevalence of shocks in novae.

Holler, B. STScI Post-outburst Rotation Light Curve of C/2015 ER61   3    

In this proposal, we are requesting 12 hours of time on 1-m telescopes and 3 hours of time on 2-m telescopes in the LCO network over 3 consecutive 24-hour periods in order to complete a project to quantify the change in the rotation period of the long-period comet C/2015 ER61 (PANSTARRS). This comet underwent an outburst in March 2017, and it is possible that the rotation period was altered as a result. Measuring the magnitude of this change will enable an estimation of the mass of total ejected material. Observations obtained in the 2015B and 2016A semesters with the LCO provide a pre-outburst, pre-perihelion rotation light curve of this comet; these observations, proposed almost 2 years later for December 2017/January 2018, will provide the post-outburst, post-perihelion rotation light curve for comparison. Based on Monte Carlo simulations, we will be able to detect a potential difference between the two rotation periods of up to 40 minutes at the 3-σ level.

Schombert, J. U. Oregon UV Imaging of LSB Dwarfs/Disks   6    

This project is to obtain deep U images of a unique sample of LSB dwarfs/disks galaxies. While the UV luminosity of most galaxies is strongly tied to the current SFR of a galaxy, recent studies have questioned the tight correlation between SFR from Hα and the UV (which has enormous impact on SFR evolution studies). In particular, Meurer et al. (2009) have stated that there is a strong correlation in FHα/fUV with surface brightness, morphology and dynamical mass (i.e., the ratio is part of a larger family of scaling relations). This result is at odds with our HST imaging of several LSB galaxies and we suspect the range of surface brightness was inadequate to make such claims. Therefore, we propose to make Johnson U observations of a unique sample of LSB galaxies (truly LSB, not intermediate as presented in GALEX papers), ranging in baryonic mass, size, gas fraction and Hα SFR. All the targets proposed herein have a complete set of optical, Hα and Spitzer imaging. These new UV observations will provide a spatial analysis of UV structure and luminosity of LSB galaxies with direct comparison to the optical and near-IR images for the same objects. This is the last missing link in understanding the star formation history and stellar populations of these important galaxies.

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

Long-Gamma ray bursts can be observed up to the very first epoch of stellar formation (z 20). Unfortunately, their rapidly fading optical/NIR counterparts make it very difficult to obtain accurate information about their progenitors (e.g. well sampled multiband lightcurves) and their distance (e.g. spectroscopic redshift). With this proposal we intend to use the LCO network observatory in order to identify optical/NIR counterparts and provide preliminary information about their high redshift nature (via R-I color and FLOYDS spectroscopy). LCO rapid ToOs will enable the inves- tigation the most interesting objects that may be produced by the first generation of stars. Our collaboration includes also the possibility to use other facilities (like the DCT and RATIR), to further studies the primordial interstellar and intergalactic medium.

Bailyn, C. Yale Black Hole Binary Systems in Quiescence       22.8  

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.

Bouy, H. U. Bordeaux A new paradigm for star formation: understanding the nature and origin of Blue Streams     48  

Our understanding of star formation in the solar neighborhood has recently been turned upside down. Our analysis of the 3D spatial distribution of OB stars within 500pc from the Sun revealed large stream-like structures – the ”Blue Streams” – covering several hundreds of parsec and about 70 Myr of continuous star formation history (Bouy & Alves, 2015). Follow-up spectroscopic observations of one of them, the Orion Blue Stream, not only allow us to confirm the existence of this structure, but also led to an even more surprising discovery: the Orion Blue Stream displays an extremely low velocity dispersion (<0.2km/s) over 100 pc, which cannot be explained by current models and theories of star formation. What is the origin of the blue streams? What is their role in the star formation on galactic scale? We propose to answer these pressing questions by obtaining precise radial velocity, Teff and log g measurements with the echelle spectrographs of the LCO network for all the known OB star members of the other major nearby blue stream: Sco-CMa. These measurements will have an immense legacy value, providing radial velocities an order of magnitude more accurate than Gaia for a genetically related population of massive stars covering a contiguous region of almost 350pc and 70 Myr of star formation propagation. Together with existing multi wavelength photometry (from optical to mid-IR, already at hand) and with the accurate Gaia proper motions and parallaxes (to be delivered in spring 2018, almost together with the proposed observations), these measurements will allow the construction of the most accurate star formation history of the Solar neighborhood, on spatial (350 pc) and time (70 Myr) scales never systematically probed before, and making the missing connection between star formation studies on local and extragalactic scales.

Miller, A. Northwestern U. Young Explosions: A ZTF Census of Stars in the Hours to Days After Death     40  

We propose a joint LCO-Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) ToO program to investigate young, relativistic stellar explosions and supernovae (SNe) on timescales of hours to days. High-cadence ZTF observations over large areas will regularly uncover very young transients. For the most common stellar explosions, supernovae (SNe), LCO will prove critical in solving the long-standing problem of mapping between SN types and progenitor systems. For SNe Ia, early UV/optical light curves are sensitive to radioactive-56Ni mixing in the ejecta and thereby shed light on explosion mechanism(s). These observations will help constrain the fraction of SNe Ia that come from single degenerate vs. double degerate binary progenitors. For core collapse SNe, LCO will help map SN types to progenitor properties (radius, mass-loss history), while also probing the unique CSM seen around some massive stars. Finally, there are classes of relativistic explosions predicted to exist but never found: dirty fireballs and orphan afterglows. This LCO-ZTF program has the capability to discover these events for the first time.

Young, L. SWRI Properties of the Patroclus-Menoetius Trojan binary of mutual events     54  

We propose to observe the mutual events between the two members of the binary Trojan asteroid Patroclus-Menoetius with LCO imaging to constrain their orbit, which will affect design decisions for NASA’s Lucy mission to the Jupiter Trojans, and to study their sizes and surface properties. During their mutual event season, Patroclus and Menoetius take turns eclipsing or occulting one another every 2.14 days. Mutual events can improve orbits, constrain limb-darkening, reveal photometric properties, and map heterogeneities. The Patroclus-Menoetius mutual event season occurs twice every 12-year orbit, and the season in 2017-2019 is the last one that can affect the Lucy design.

Bennett, D. NASA-GSFC The Galactic Bulge Exoplanet Mass Function from High Magnification Microlensing Events     120  

The gravitational microlensing planet detection method has two main strengths. It is sensitive to planets down to low masses beyond the snow line, where giant planets can form most efficiently, and it is sensitive to planetary systems in different stellar environments, from the Solar neighborhood to the Galactic bulge. Recent improvements in the capabilities of gravitational microlensing search efforts with the OGLE-IV survey, the Korean Microlensing Telescope Network, and the Las Cumbres Observatory (LCO) Global Telescope Network have significantly improved the microlensing exoplanet discovery rate. The Spitzer and K2 microlensing parallax programs have improved our ability to determine masses and distances for planetary systems in the Galactic disk. However, somewhat by accident, our ability to determine the masses and distances to microlensing planetary systems in the Galactic bulge decreased in recent years. We propose use the rapid high magnification alert capability of the MOA-II survey to take advantage of the rapid alert response capability of the LCO network significantly to increase the discovery rate of planetary systems that can be proven to reside in the Galactic bulge.

Bodewits, D. U. Maryland Rapid follow-up on cometary outburst detections     15  

The proposed observations will provide high-cadence lightcurves of 3 cometary outbursts, enabling us to estimate dust expansion speeds, total dust mass, and total kinetic energy for each event. 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 LCO     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 on the LCO 1m network to carry out these observations for dozens of candidates, which will contribute to the discovery and characterization of ∼ 18 new well characterized planets. This effort will focus on confirming planets around M dwarfs, Neptune-size planets, and long period planets, 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.

Trump, J. U. Conn Accretion-Disk Echo Mapping: Adding LCO Optical to Hubble UV Monitoring     181  

We propose accretion-disk reverberation mapping (RM) of 5 quasars using the LCO 2m to add r and z optical photometry to our approved HST UV monitoring campaign. There exist only 4 previous low-luminosity Seyfert AGNs with UV/optical RM accretion-disk sizes: in contrast, our 5 quasars span an order of magnitude higher accretion rate and have accurate BH masses from SDSS-RM. The combined UV-optical RM observations will directly probe the accretion-rate dependence of the inner accretion disk, where significant structural changes have been suggested by theory and previous indirect observations. Our scheduled 32-orbit HST UV campaign will only succeed with the rz optical monitoring proposed here. We use simulations to establish the 186-hr observing design, using a daily cadence from Feb 1 – May 20 to accurately measure UV-optical continuum lags and accretion-disk structure. The combined HST-LCO monitoring campaign will enable critical new measurements of accretion-disk structure during the rapid accretion mode that dominates black hole growth.

Metcalfe, T. Space Science Inst. Activity Cycles in Asteroseismic Solar Analogs 60  

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 distinct relationships between the length of the cycle and the rotation rate of the star. Neither of these relationships correctly describe 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 34 bright stars with known rotation rates (Prot < 22 days), to identify the short activity cycles (Pcyc < 5 years) that are precursors 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), currently scheduled for launch in March 2018.

Walter, F. Stony Brook U. Synoptic Spectroscopy of Bright Novae   40

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. High cadence, high resolution spectroscopy may let us resolve the origin of absorption systems; correlations with OIR photometry are revealing insights into the physical processes. This is a ToO program. We request a total of 50 hours (5 nights) with LCO/NRES to obtain a high-cadence (nightly or better) sequence of synoptic spectra of the next bright galactic novae.

Romani, R. KIPAC The dramatic optical flares of PSR J1311-3430   60  

We propose imaging of PSR J1311-3430, a remarkable ultra-short period system with a millisecond pulsar evaporating its sub-stellar companion. The observation targets recently discovered X-ray/optical flares which probe eruptive processes in the intrabinary shock or on the heated companion surface. Our planned LCO observations provide near-continuous coverage in two filters during two proposed XMM-Newton integrations (60ks and 40ks), ideally scheduled in early 18A. If the XMM observations are delayed we request that at least a 60ks observation be completed in 18A, measuring flare statistics and establishing the color sensitivity.

Fremling, C. Caltech LCO follow-up of stripped-envelope supernovae discoverd by the ZTF 36

We propose to photometrically characterize the population of stripped-envelope supernovae (SESNe) discovered by the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) during science commissioning and the first semester of operations in 2018. The dataset will be used, in combination with semi-analytical and/or hydrodynamical modeling, in order to understand the nature of the progenitor stars that give rise to SESNe. In particular, we propose to collect u-band photometry around maximum light of a large amount of objects, which will allow us to constrain the host extinction and bolometric luminosity in an unprecedented way.

South African Astronomical Observatory

PI Name PI Institution Title 2018A hours
FLOYDS (2m) Spectral (2m) NRES (1m) Sinistro (1m) SBIG (0.4m)
Sefako, R. SAAO SAAO contribution to Transiting Exoplanet Science Key Project     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.
Potter, S. SAAO DDT, Transients and public outreach     50  
Allocation for directors discretionary time, SAAO/SALT Transient program and public outreach.
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.
Kniazev, A. SAAO Study photometric structure of southern lenticular galaxies in clusters     36  
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.
Kniazev, A. SAAO Confirming the LBV status of spectroscopically selected LBV candidates     10  
We have been conducting an optical/near-IR spectral survey of a large subset of central stars residing within newly discovered Spitzer and WISE nebulae and have identified over two dozen new candidate luminous blue variable (LBV) stars. Confirming them as bona fide LBVs requires demonstrating spectroscopic and ~ 1-3 mag photometric variability. Our optical spectro-photometric monitoring already has confirmed four!!! new candidate LBV stars as a bona fide LBV, which presently displaying what appears to be S Dor-type variability. We propose to carry out further photometric monitoring of these four and twenty others spectroscopically selected optically bright LBV candidates, which would allow us to study the development of the LBV activity of new found bona fide LBVs and potentially to confirm the LBV status of some of the LBV candidates.
Menzies, J. SAAO Light-Curves of Possible Super-AGB Stars in NGC 6822     1  
:We propose obtaining one exposure per month in the I band of the brightest LPVs in NGC6822 in order to characterize their variability. This is an ongoing programme that has been quite successful so far. Because the periods are very long (>500 day) we need observations over a number of years to get satisfactory light curves.
Menzies, J. SAAO Evolutionary Period Changes in Hot Bottom Burning Stars in IC1613?       3  
We propose obtaining one exposure per month in the Rc band of the hot bottom burning (HBB) variables in IC 1613 in order to further 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 real-time evolution is occurring. We have obtained useful data so far, but need to cover several more cycles to determine if the periods are stable.
Wilcots, E. U. Wisconsin AGN and the Variable Radio Sky via CHILES VERDES       50  
We request 4800s (1.33.hours) per night of LCO time in r band through the end of the current configuration of the Jansky Very Large Array on 29 January 2018 to monitor the optical counterparts to transient and variable radio events detected by CHILES (COSMOS HI Large Extragalactic Survey). CHILES is a deep-field survey conducted at the Jansky Very Large Array (VLA), providing deep radio spectral-line and continuum observations of faint sources in the COSMOS field over timescales of ~10 years. The purpose of this proposal is to probe variability of the optical counterparts of the radio continuum sources with ~daily cadence during Nov 2017--Jan 2018 (overlapping with CHILES observations), to: 1. Map the full range of timescales of radio and optical variability in active galactic nuclei (AGN); 2. Quantify the amplitudes of AGN variability, particularly for low-luminosity AGN; and 3. Survey the CHILES field for optical transients, which may have radio counterparts. There has been no previously allocated time on any LCO facility.
Hlabathe, M. SAAO Echo mapping of low redshift (z<0.1) AGN as part of the LCO AGN key project       41  
Echo mapping of active galactic nuclei (AGN) measures the time lag between the variable continuum and broad emission line in order to determine the size of the emitting broad line region (BLR). We want to use this technique to determine the size of the BLR for a sample of low luminosity AGN at low redshift (z < 0.1). We will trigger spectroscopic monitoring based on the photometric monitoring we propose to carry out with LCO. From these observations, we will calibrate the relationship between black hole mass, the BLR size, the velocity dispersion and the luminosity for low luminosity AGN.

Scottish Universities Physics Alliance

PI Name PI Institution Title 2018A hours
FLOYDS (2m) Spectral (2m) NRES (1m) Sinistro (1m) SBIG (0.4m)
Tsapras, Y. U. Heidelberg ROME/REA - A three-color window to planets beyond the snow-line.       350  
SUPA contribution to ROME/REA Key Project
Horne, K. St. Andrews U. Echo Mapping of AGN Accretion Flows       594  
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       50  
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)       90  
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       10  
Seasonal Variations on Pluto
Hodgkin, S. Cambridge U. Galactic Transients with Gaia       41  
Galactic Transients with Gaia
Smartt, S. QUB Photometric monitoring with LCO for ePESSTO       65  
Photometric monitoring with LCO for ePESSTO: the extended Public ESO Spectroscopic Survey of Transient Objects

Chilean Astronomical Community

PI Name PI Institution Title 2018A hours
FLOYDS (2m) Spectral (2m) NRES (1m) Sinistro (1m) SBIG (0.4m)
Barba, R. ULS The photometric monitoring of a close encounter of hefty stars: the periastron passage of HD 93129 A       8  
We have discovered that the visual pair HD 93 129 Aa,Ab is a high-eccentricity (e > 0.9) physically-bound massive binary with a century- long period, a total mass over 100 M 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) near 2018.5 (July). We have started a large combined observational program to monitor the event. Planned observations include HST, XMM, NuStar, VLTI/PIONIER, VLT/UVES, etc. 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.
Lira, P. UCH Optical and IR monitoring of Narrow Line Seyfert 1s       62  
Correlation analysis results of AGN are at odds with the standard accretion disk theory, with disk sizes appear- ing consistently larger than expected. We still do no know whether this behavior is true for all possible values of BH masses and accretions rates. We want to test this by studying 2 Narrow Line Seyfert 1s (NLS1s), which are characterized by small BH masses and high accretion rates, one been studied now in 2017A and one to done in 2017B. Besides, some NLS1s show no correlation between X-rays and the UV. If this is the case, optical variability might not lag behind shorter wavelengths. In the hot disks of these very high accretion rate AGN, internal thermal fluctuations might dominate the variability, with 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 by studying the NLS1 1H0707-495.
Jordan, A. PUC Confirming and Characterizing Long Period Transiting Planets with LCOGT       100  
Transiting planets around bright stars are key objects for exploring the physical properties of planets outside the Solar System. The HATSouth survey is a leading effort for discovering and characterizing these planets. Candidate planets that are identified by the survey must be confirmed through high-precision photometric and spectroscopic follow-up observations. Here we propose to use the Sinistro imagers on the LCO 1m network to carry out these observations for dozens of candidates, which will contribute to the discovery and characterization of ~4 new well characterized planets. This effort will focus on confirming long period planets, which need the network configuration of LCOGT to be confirmed, 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.
Berdiñas, Z. UCH Beating Red Dots       40
Could asteroseismology in M dwarfs help in providing an accurate determination of exoplanets physical properties? Potentially it can, but first, stellar pulsations in M dwarfs have to be observationally confirmed. Theoretical studies support that main-sequence M dwarfs can drive pulsations with periods between 20min to 3h. This result, along with the fact that only a a few regions in the HR diagram are not covered yet by pulsating stars, pushed us to start in 2013 a survey searching for M-dwarf pulsations using high-resolution spectrographs. The goal of the present campaign is to combine efforts from LCOGT and HARPS to finally confirme/rule out the origin of the best pulsation candidate signal we detected so far for GJ 588 (P~2h, K=0.36m/s). With this aim, we request four consecutive nights of LCOGT photometry (filters V, r'+i', and the narrow H_alpha when possible) simultaneous to spectroscopy HARPS observations (tentative dates requested 14-17 May 2018).
Lira, P. UCH Monitoring the most highly variable AGN in the nearby Universe: obtaining clues to understand accretion physics   45    
Large spectroscopic quasar samples in the time domain, such as SDSS and Pan-STARRS, have recently revealed highly variable Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN), some of which have been observed to correspond to 'changing look quasars' (CLQs) where the broad emission lines and associated optical/UV continuum turn off or on, yielding startling new insights into the accretion physics and duty cycles of supermassive black holes. We propose an intense photometric monitoring campaign for 23 such sources using the 2m telescopes in the LCOGT network in order to later trigger spectrscopic follow-up with Gemini and the MTT that will extend our knowledge of AGN variability and the physics of accretions disks.

National Astronomical Observatories of China

PI Name PI Institution Title 2018A hours
FLOYDS (2m) Spectral (2m) NRES (1m) Sinistro (1m) SBIG (0.4m)
Zang, W.   ROME/REA - A three-color window to planets beyond the snow-line       40  
NAOC contribution to ROME/REA key project.
Wang, X. Tsinghua U. The Global Supernova Project       90  
NAOC contribution to Global Supernova key project.
Dong, S. Peking U. Multi-band Photometric Monitoring of Extragalactic Transients Discovered by ASAS-SN       70  
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 2018A hours
FLOYDS (2m) Spectral (2m) NRES (1m) Sinistro (1m) SBIG (0.4m)
Hallakoun, N. Tel Aviv U. Companions and debris around white dwarfs 220  
Companions and debris around white dwarfs
Mazeh, T. Tel Aviv. U. NRES on TESS targets     220    
NRES on TESS targets
Kaspi, S. Tel Aviv U. Photometric Quasar Reverberation       150  
Photometric Quasar Reverberation
Katz, B. Weizmann Inst. Light Curves of SNe Ia       45  
Light Curves of Type 1a Supernovae
Ofek, E.   ZTF Transient Follow-up 15      
ZTF Transient Follow-up
Horesh, A. HUJI ZTF/Meerlicht Transient Follow-up 13     9
ZTF/Meerlicht Transient Follow-up

Australian National University

PI name Title 2018A hours
FLOYDS (2m) (2m) (2m) (1m) (0.4m)
Yong, D. Binarity in Carbon-enhanced metal-poor stars     33  

Binarity in Carbon-enhanced metal-poor stars

Ireland, M. Calibrating Young Stellar Models with Dynamical Masses in the Gaia Era     36  

Calibrating Young Stellar Models with Dynamical Masses in the Gaia Era

Bento, J. Transiting Exoplanet Science with LCO 10   131

ANU contribution to Transiting Exoplanets key project.

Tucker, B. The Global Supernova Project 74  

ANU contribution to Global Supernova key project.

Murphy, S. High-cadence photometry of a young M+M dwarf eclipsing binary in the 32 Ori Moving Group 16  

High-cadence photometry of a young M+M dwarf eclipsing binary in the 32 Ori Moving Group

Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias

PI name Title 2018A hours
FLOYDS (2m) Spectral (2m) NRES (1m) Sinistro (1m) SBIG (0.4m)
Bejar, V. Photometric monitoring of the M dwarfs in the Carmenes sample         200
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.
Crouzet, N. Searching for transiting cold Jupiters around bright stars         60
Much of our understanding of gas giant exoplanets come from those transiting in front of bright stars at very short orbital separations (P ~ 3 days, a ~ 0.05 AU). These hot Jupiters are coupled to their host stars: stellar irradiation impacts the chemistry and temperature structure of their atmospheres, and tidal interactions with the host star a ects the planet's orbital dynamics and may even impact the star itself. This coupling complicates the modelling of hot Jupiters and impairs our understanding of gas giant planets in general. In this respect, hot Jupiters are complex systems to study. In contrast, gas giant exoplanets with long orbital periods and large separations (P > 30 days, a > 0.2 AU) are largely decoupled from their host stars making them ideal benchmarks to study gas giant planets. Unfortunately, their properties are largely unknown because transiting ones are much harder to detect than those at shorter orbital periods. In fact, they are out of reach of most ground-based transit surveys. CoRoT and Kepler detected such planets but only around faint stars, which make them hard to characterize. The next step in our understanding of gas giant planets will come from the discovery and characterization of transiting "cold Jupiters" orbiting bright stars. In the past years, we conducted a photometric transit survey from Dome C in Antarctica through the ASTEP project (Antarctica Search for Transiting Exoplanets, PI: T. Guillot) and identified around forty transit candidates around bright stars, many of them having orbital periods longer than 30 days. Here, we propose to conduct a photometric follow-up of the best candidates with the LCO 40cm telescopes. The LCO network is the only ground-based facility that can perform this follow-up efficiently. Indeed, the long orbital periods yield long transit durations, which cannot be observed in full from a single temperate site. Combining light curves from telescopes located at different longitudes observing the same transit event will allow us to reconstruct a full transit curve. This follow-up should yield the discovery of a few transiting "cold Jupiters" that are suitable to characterization and will extend the parameter space in the study of gas giant exoplanets.
Licandro, J. Photometric Observations of the Targets of NASA’s Mission Lucy         60
In this proposal we aim to obtain photometric observations of Jupiter Trojan asteroids (617) Patroclus, (3548) Eurybates, and (21900) Orus using the 40cm telescopes in support of the Lucy mission. Lucy is a mission of the NASA’s Discovery Program that is planned to launch in October 2021 and will complete a 12-year journey to six different asteroids - a primitive main belt asteroid (52246 Donaldjohanson) and five Trojans (including 617, 3548 and 21900). Lucy is the first reconnaissance mission of the Jupiter Trojan asteroids. These primitive bodies may be remnants of the primordial material that formed the outer planets, and serve as time capsules from the birth of our Solar System more than 4 billion years ago. These asteroids are of a more pristine composition, experienced less heating and may contain a significant fraction of ice in their interiors (Jones et al. 1990; Burbine et al. 2008) than the main belt asteroids. Their origin is still under debate. Levison et al. (2008), suggested that a large fraction are transneptunian objects (TNOs) moved to these resonances in an early epoch of the Solar System called the “Late Heavy Bombardment" (LHB). Jupiter Family (JF) comets and Centaurs are dynamically evolved TNOs. It is therefore reasonable to consider that Trojans are largely populated by captured TNOs, their surface properties should be similar to each other and also similar to those of JF comets and Centaurs with past cometary-like activity. The mission will use a suite of high-heritage remote sensing instruments to map the geology, surface color and composition, thermal and other physical properties of its targets at close range.
Prieto, J. Exploring New Parameter Space with SuperWASP-North         40
Despite the significant increase in the number of known transiting planets brought about by the Kepler & K2 missions, questions still remain regarding the formation and evolution of exoplanetary systems. To tackle these issues we must continue to explore the corners of parameter space, searching out new systems at the edge of what we currently know. Within this context, changes to both the hardware and observing strategy of SuperWASP-North have extended the parameter space it can access into smaller radii and longer orbital periods (Pollacco et al. 2006). Our stare-mode strategy provides less sky-coverage but allows for a faster observing cadence and higher photometric precision. Combined with better control of systematic noise, this allows the detection of both 'warm Jupiters' and Neptune-like planets. Our previous detection strategy required the phase alignment of multiple, periodic transit events, limiting our sensitivity to systems with P < 6 days. Initial results from stare-mode observations confirm that we can now identify planets from individual transits, pushing the boundaries of ground-based planet detection to longer periods only previously accessible from space. This opens up the possibility of discovering `warm Jupiters' in 6-60 days orbits, including orbits in the habitable zone of low-mass, bright K dwarfs, using SuperWASP. These would be ideal candidates for detailed characterisation studies aimed at determining planetary atmospheric properties.
Acosta, J. Optical monitoring of a sample of bright gamma-ray blazars         20
Blazars (BL-Lac type and Flat Spectrum Radio Quasars) form a class of Active Galactic Nuclei, very luminous from radio-frequencies to very high energies, showing extreme variability and high polarization. The emission is supposed to come from a jet of accelerated relativistic particles, originating at the vicinity of a supermassive black hole, and oriented closely to the line of sight which amplified the radiation. Blazars stand out as a good laboratory to study relativistic jets. The analysis of light curves at different spectral ranges provides a very powerful tool to disentangle the physical mechanisms responsible of blazar emission, specially to locate the regions where emission in different spectral ranges originates. Here we propose to continue our photometric monitoring in the optical range of a sample of blazars, which are very active in gamma rays as well as in the optical-infrared range. Our group actively participates in the international network GASP-WEBT [http://www.oato.inaf.it/blazars/webt/]. The selected sample is daily monitored in the high-energy range by space observatories, like Fermi, AGILE and Swift, despite few targets are also regularly observed using groundbased facilities, like MAGIC telescopes. The use of robotic observing facilities, such as Las Cumbres Observatory, is preferred against observations in visitor mode for our monitoring program, since it permits to have a more regular observing cadence and hence well populated light curves.
Casares, J. VRIHα follow-up of Be X-ray binary systems         20
Be X-ray binary systems (BeX for short) are stellar binary systems in which a Be star and a compact object orbit each other around their common center of mass (Reig 2011). A Be star is a main sequence early B star showing hydrogen Balmer lines in emission and an infrared excess with respect normal B stars of the same subtype. Both observational facts are due to the presence of an equatorial circumstellar decretion disc around the B star (Slettebak 1988). The presence of such a circumstellar structure determines both the observational properties of the B star and of the binary system. The exact processes which drive the formation of such a disc are still unknown, although pulsations, fast rotation, and magnetic fields are known to be key ingredients (Porter & Rivinus 2003). The Be disc in the presence of a nearby orbiting compact object is denser and more compact than that of an isolated Be star (Zamanov et al. 2001). X-ray emission is released from the compact companion once or twice per orbit when it approaches the Be star and captures matter from the disc. This matter accretes onto the compact object and loses energy in the form of X-ray radiation. The intensity of the X-ray emission, in turn, depends on the quantity of plasma captured and its density. The study of the properties of Be disks in X-ray binary systems is, therefore, of crucial interest in several fields of research, from the study of the hydrodynamics of plasmas to the theories of stellar structure and evolution, sharing interests with theories of accretion processes and stellar wind modelling, among others. The study of these discs can be overtaken from a large variety of points of view: spectroscopy has been proven to be very fruitful and accurate; X-ray luminosities observed can indirectly give information about the density and size of the disc; photometry has also revealed itself as a key tool to study the properties of Be disks in both isolated and binary stars and to locate optical counterparts (see for example Reig et al. 2005 and Blay et al. 2012).
Gomez, M. Spectral Energy distribution of planetary nebulae detected by GALEX         10
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, Garc´ıa-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. In binary CSPN, a double spectral energy distribution (SED) is expected; the ionizing star with a temperature higher than 30000K and the companion, which may have a cooler temperature. To find the double SED, a study of the UV band to optical-IR is needed. The GALEX far-UV and near-UV fluxes, added to optical-IR data, offer an unique sensitivity to detect hot companions, elusive in optical surveys. GALEX FUV and NUV data exist (Bianchi, 2014) for a sample of 500 CSPN, while only a fraction of these has optical photoemtry from SDSS or Pan-STARRS. SBIG6303 mounted in the 0.4m telescope will allow us: obtain the optical photometry in five bands (u g r i z ), fitting a double SED (if binary exist) in conjunction with GALEX catalog, characterize the CSPN, and obtain the stellar temperatures. Positive results from the first part of observations were obtained. For this reason is that we are requesting for the other half of our objects.

ARI - Liverpool John Moores University

PI name Title 2018A hours
FLOYDS (2m) Spectral (2m) NRES (1m) Sinistro (1m) SBIG (0.4m)
Darnley, M. Follow-up observations of Local Group Novae 10 5  
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 8 7  
We would use the LCO 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 use the LCO 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 LCO 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 1m 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.
Bersier, D. Classification and followup of bright transients 8 7  
We want to 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. With the ASAS-SN network now expanding, we can guarantee that there will be exciting and early discoveries.
Jermak, H. Follow-up of blazars 15  
We wish to carry out intensive photometric follow-up of a small sample of blazars with the 1 metre class LCO telescopes, as part of our larger blazar monitoring program with the Liverpool Telescope. We wish to take daily observations of bright and active blazars to compare with Fermi gamma-ray data to explore the emission locations within the jet according to delay times between optical and gamma-ray flares. We require well populated light curves in order to carry out unambiguous analysis of the delay times, the LCO network is ideal for this study. We are also keen to make use of 'quiet' observation periods by regularly checking the LCO schedule. We will also use these observations to explore the possibility of developing small polarimeters for the 1m telescopes in the LCO network (by exploring the cadence possible with the network for blazar analysis). Introducing polarimetry to the LCO network would be an exciting possibility for the follow-up of gamma-ray bursts, optical counterparts to gravitational wave events and other transient sources. Polarimetry allows the exploration of the magnetic field of a source and is used in this project to probe the strongly polarised light associated with the relativistic jets formed in the region of supermassive black holes.
Prentice, S. Stripped Envelope SN Follow-up 4 3 8  
The observational and physical diversity of stripped-envelope supernovae has previously been underestimated. Recent work suggests that some 20 percent of newly discovered objects are sufficiently different to known SE-SNe that they warrant significant spectroscopic and photometric sampling and analysis on an individual basis. The LCO network is suitably placed to contribute to the photometric follow-up of SE-SNe, either as lead or in support of other facilities.

University of Texas

PI name Title 2018A hours
FLOYDS (2m) Spectral (2m) NRES (1m) Sinistro (1m) SBIG (0.4m)
Froning, C. The Mega-MUSCLES Treasury Survey: Measurements of the Ultraviolet Spectral Characteristics of Low- mass Exoplanetary System     24
Understanding what happens to rocky planets and their atmospheres in the habitable zones (HZs) of low mass stars is currently one of the greatest astronomical challenges. The nearest Earth mass planets in the HZ orbit M dwarfs, and these are prime targets for spectroscopic biomarker searches in the next decade (Shields et al. 2017). We will combine HST and LCO observations to determine the SED behavior of M stars.
Robinson, E. The Light Curves of Wolf-Rayet Stars 1 38
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 difficult 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 specific goal is to search for periodic variability attributable to pulsations. Current theoretical models for WR stars suggest that the most likely pulsations would be g-mode pulsataions with periods of 1 - 10 days. To search for these pulsations, we we will obtain measurements of their brightness every 1/2 day or so for ∼ 50 days. With overhead, each star will require a total of about 10 hours of observing time. We also need Hα snapshot images to assess contamination from the circumstellar material that typically surrounds WR stars. Our analysis of the data we have obtained so far is not complete, but we confirm that the data quality is adequate for our project. On the basis of experience, however, we now request only low-cadence observations. We are also switching all our observations except the Hα images from the 1-m telescopes to the 0.4-m telescopes.
Cochran, W. High Precision Stellar Radial Velocities Using the LCO NRES 25
The LCO network is now deploying the NRES cross-dispersed echelle spectrographs. At present, one NRES has been installed at CTIO in Chile and one NRES has been installed at McDonald Observatory. A third NRES is en-route to South Africa. The NRES team is now in the process of commissioning these instruments. The McDonald NRES is being released to users at the beginning of November 2017. We propose to begin use of the LCO NRES instruments (once they have been commissioned and the data are well understood) to extend and augment high precision radial velocity data from our regular McDonald (and formerly HET) RV planet detection programs. We plan to use NRES to gather additional RV data on targets for which the temporal sampling of our regular 2.7m RV program is inappropriate. In particular, we are interested in RV observations of very short period candidate planet systems. Kepler and K2 have uncovered a class of ultra-short period (USP) planets with orbital periods ranging from two days down to just a few hours. These planets are much more amenable to study with a network like LCO than with a few night monthly observing run on the 2.7m telescope.
Kraus, A. The Cluster Birth Environment: Kinematics and Membership in Sco-Cen 41
The majority of stars form as parts of a larger cluster or association of forming stars. The details of this initial cluster environment, such as density and stellar content, directly affect the resulting planetary systems that survive to maturity. While numerous groups of young stars have been identified, the details of their formation environment have been obscured by insufficient precision of available astrometric measurements. With the upcoming second Gaia data release, which will provide microarcsecond parallax and proper motions for most young stars within 200 pc of the sun, kinematic traceback of stellar populations to the epoch of formation will be possible. We propose to observe ∼630 members of the Sco-Cen association (τ = 10 − 20 Myr) with NRES to obtain the missing radial velocities required for accurate traceback. Our targets span the key range of stellar masses that will most strongly influence primordial planetary systems.
Rizzuto, A. The Evolution of Planetary Atmospheres     39
Studying the inner regions of protoplanetary disks at 1 AU has been hindered by small angular scales and faint disk emission compared to the host star. Fortunately, recently discovered “dipper” stars provide a rare opportunity to observe the inner disk. Dippers are T-Tauri stars with optical light curves that exhibit very deep (10-60% in flux) and short-duration (0.5-2 days) dimming events. This is consistent with large dusty structures orbiting in the inner disk and transiting our line of sight to the star. Color information in the dips can tell us a great deal about the occulting material. Our past observations with LCO suggest that dippers are likely to fall into at least two different classes, with some showing deeper transits at bluer wavelengths (consistent with dust) and some consistent with no or very weak color variations. However, we have only two examples in each category at this time. Here we propose to continue monitoring Dippers using the 0.4m LCO network, with the greater goal of measuring the relative frequency of these two classes and differentiate the different driving mechanisms.
Rizzuto, A. K2C15 Upper Scorpius Follow-up     25  
The Sco-Cen star forming region is one of the nearest samples of young stars (10-20 Myr) available for the study of star and planet evolution at the early stages of the pre-main sequence. The repurposed Kepler mission (K2) will observe ∼600 of the Upper Scorpius subgroup of Sco-Cen, with the data becoming available in April 2018. 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 Upper Scorpius to rule out activity induced transit-like events using multi-wavelength transit photometry. We will also observe any eclipsing binary systems identified in Upper Scorpius to obtain precise stellar properties, as they will serve as young-age benchmarks for testing the current and future stellar evolution models.
Cochran, W. Transiting Exoplanet Science with LCO – The Network Awakens 20 49
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, HATSouth, and TESS surveys. We have identified 4 observing activities where LCO will make a significant contribution: I) we will detect transiting warm Jupiters, to study the inflated gas giant planet conundrum; 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; III) we will observe planet candidates orbiting bright and quiet stars which once confirmed will become prime targets for detailed characterization; 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.
Wheeler, J. C. Supernova Legacy Project: Texas Contribution       39  
Observations of four well-sampled supernova light curves at 30epochs in five filters as Texas Contribution to the LCOGT SN Key Project.

IfA - University of Hawaii

PI name Title 2018A hours
FLOYDS (2m) Spectral (2m) NRES (1m) Sinistro (1m) SBIG (0.4m)
Armstrong, JD HI STAR Projects 5 50 20 70
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 5 45 20 70
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.
Mathews, G Astro 301 15 10 55
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         55
0m4 educational data sets
Armstrong, JD Transiting Exoplanet Science with LCO 5 10 50
IfA - Univ. of Hawaii contribution to the Transiting Exoplanet Science key project.

Faulkes Telescope Project

PI name Title 2018A hours
FLOYDS (2m) Spectral (2m) NRES (1m) Sinistro (1m) SBIG (0.4m)
Roche, P. Education - Real Time Observing 92 92
Real Time Observing for FTP education program.
Roche, P. Education - Queue observations 200 130 100
Use of queue observations for FTP education program.
Roche, P. Education - Gaia Alerts 30 15 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.