Institute of Astronomy

Planets around Giant Stars: Results from the Lick Survey

SpeakerTalk DateTalk Series
Andreas Quirrenbach29 July 2014Across HR 2014 Talks


We present results from a radial-velocity survey of 373 giant stars at Lick Observatory, which started in 1999. We have detected planets around 15 of these stars; an additional 20 stars host planet candidates. Companions with up to 25 Jupiter masses are rather commonly found around stars with about 2 Solar masses. The frequency of detected planetary companions appears to increase with metallicity. No planets or planet candidates are found around stars with more than 2.7 Solar masses, although our sample contains 113 such stars. We conclude that the occurrence rate of giant planets as a function of Stellar mass peaks around 2 Solar masses. This has important consequences for our understanding of giant planet formation. The stars 91 Aqr and tau Gem have companions with orbits that are among those with the lowest eccentricities of all known exoplanets, perhaps due to tidal circularization during the RGB phase. If confirmed, this would be the first evidence of planetary orbits modified through stellar evolution. We have discovered several multiple systems in our sample. An extensive dynamical analysis of the eta Cet system indicates that it contains two massive planets in a 2:1 orbital resonance. The star nu Oph is orbited by two brown dwarf companions in a 6:1 resonance. It is likely that they arrived in this resonance through migration in a circumstellar disk, arguing strongly that objects with more than 20 Jupiter masses can be formed in disks around Herbig Ae stars.